Summary (If your book is divided into three parts then it will be chapters 11 of Part 1 through 2 of Part 2.)
How dare their daddy’s letters bring the Bertram ladies back to reality!? And how dare Miss Crawford make herself more agreeable to Edmund by insulting his chosen career!? The Bertrams are a fine bunch of kiddies, all with their priorities way off track. So far off track they continue to ignore the voices of reason (Fanny and Sir Thomas).
Fanny attends her first ball, with the usual lack of enthusiasm from anyone around her. Mr. Yates bring the theater bug to Mansfield. The play within the theater of societal intrigue brings a lot to the table. Edmund is against Lovers Vows until dear, sweet Miss Crawford gets in on the business. The casting itself causes major drama, because it isn’t just about the acting of love, but the undertones between the actors off stage as well.
It’s a shame when you think of the Bertram’s enthusiasm over a play (put on to PASS THE TIME because they are of a leisure class) when compared to Fanny’s first ball, which would otherwise have been her coming-out. It’s such an important time for a woman during the Regency era, to put herself on the marriage market so she can better her situation, and potentially that of her family’s. This integral moment in her life isn’t noticed by those currently in the home, which speaks volumes about how self-involved they are.
Fanny is brought into the play discussion unwillingly, and much abused over even mentioning that she doesn’t act. THE HORROR OF AN HONEST SOUL! Geez. You can’t help but cringe twice over as Mrs. Norris verbally abuses the soft-spoken girl and then as Miss Crawford turns out to be the only person with the heart to comfort her. Fanny ends up having to help Miss Crawford learn her lines, the very lines of love she will be speaking to Edmund.
Sir Thomas comes home and CAN’T EVEN with his family. His temper sends everyone to the hills.
Fanny bears all of this relatively well. What’s subtly done here is the creation of sympathy for Fanny. She rarely speaks her mind, yet her pain is palpable.
“I dare say you will have no objection to join us in a rubber; shall you?” – Mrs. Norris
“But I do not much like the idea of being so fine. – I shall hardly know myself in a blue dress, and a pink satin cloak.” – Mr. Rushworth channeling Hyacinth Bucket (BOUQUET!)
“What gentleman among you, am I to have the pleasure of making love to?” Miss Crawford
“Such a forward young lady may well frighten the men.” Miss Crawford
Imagine if the Bertram boys were reversed. If Edmund was the eldest would he act as careless as his older brother? Or would he still be his responsible self? Do you think their characters are mostly based on birthright?
What are the deeper implications of the casting?
What other plays would have been interesting to have been performed between the love-blinded Betrams and Crawfords?
How do we feel about the appearance of Sir Thomas? How would the relationship(s) between the Crawfords and Bertrams have developed with his absence extended awhile longer?
Sir Thomas seems to come back with a more careful eye toward Fanny. Why do we think this is?