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Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

June 30, 2018 06:41AM
I've been re-reading Mansfield Park and read through some of the old threads on here and wanted to share what I thought at the end of the novel.

I think Edmund was infatuated with Mary; I don't believe he was genuinely in love with her because I don't think he ever saw the real Mary under the facade and the illusion he had in his head. If they had married, I could see him falling very hard out of infatuation but unless she had improved/changed under his influence, I find it hard to believe he would love her real, undisguised self.

On the other hand, I do believe Mary loved Edmund and Henry loved Fanny. But in both cases, their love - sincere as it was - could not counter the temptations of vanity. In essentials, their characters were indeed corrupt; their weaknesses held greater influence over their actions than their virtues. And I think this was pointed to from the start, when they were introduced in chapter 5 and they (with Mrs Grant) discuss marriage.

I know from past threads than not everyone thinks Henry and Mary sincerely loved. I think it more powerful that they did love but that love is not enough to change a person's essential character, whether returned (Edmund/Mary) or not (Henry/Fanny) - especially when set against other examples from Austen's novels. Edward Ferrars for instance... his love, either for Lucy (when he first got engaged to her) or to Elinor was not the driver that finally granted him independence from his mother. Rather, it was his honourable action of standing by his promise - even when he no longer wanted to - that gave him strength of character. Or Darcy. His love for Elizabeth and thus the value he placed on the mirror she held up to him at Hunsford, did drive a change - but it was not a change in his essentials. Darcy character was always good in essentials; it was his manners and temper that were faulty, and his manners that he changed.

Also from P&P, there are plenty of examples of infatuation. Elizabeth's initial one for Wickham. Mr Collin's, first for Elizabeth and then for Charlotte. Lydia's for Wickham. In all cases, the commonality is the infatuated one does not see the object clearly, that they see a facade, an illusion - either created by the object or in one case, Mr Collin's for Elizabeth, it was all in Mr Collin's head!

And in Emma, with it's Edmund/Mary to Knightley/Emma and Henry/Fanny to Frank/Jane parallels, I do have to wonder about the enduring happiness of Frank and Jane. There is so much fluff about Frank, it is hard to discern his true character through it all - so much charm and liveliness and yet the way he neglected his new step-mother, imposed on Emma, tormented Jane with his flirting with Emma? It reminds me of when Elizabeth tried to recall some specific good of Mr. Wickham to substantiate his social charm, and cannot. However superior the character of Jane Fairfax and however sincere the love, I cannot help being suspicious about the match.

Thoughts, anyone?

Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

Cat H.June 30, 2018 06:41AM

Re: Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

LizaAugust 11, 2018 10:19PM

Re: Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

AdelaideJuly 17, 2018 12:25AM

Re: Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

AmytatJuly 16, 2018 03:09AM

Re: Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

Agnes BeatrixJuly 02, 2018 04:51PM

Re: Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

Cat H.July 04, 2018 05:52AM

Re: Infatuation vs love? (Crawfords, Churchill and more)

AdelaideJuly 07, 2018 03:43PM


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