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

July 17, 2018 12:25AM
As Austen's "villains" or "bad boys" go, the one whose intentions we know most directly from his own mouth is Henry Crawford. Comparatively, George Wickham and John Willoughby (and Captain Tilney with Isabella Thorpe) behave worse than Crawford. Their actions are more directly damaging to their targets. In the case of Crawford, a reader's concern is what he would do to Fanny if she were ever foolish enough to marry him.

But, that said, Crawford declares outright that he means to mislead Fanny Price, to make her simper and look longingly at him, and to leave "a little hole" in her heart. He does the same with the married Maria, whose coldness to him is repulsive after the way she had been putty in his hands before marrying Rushworth. He wants to make Maria Rushworth, Maria Bertram again, all agog with affection for him, eating up his flattery and flirting with a big spoon. It always amazes me that some readers defend Henry, believe he can be rehabilitated and wish that he instead of Edmund ended up with Fanny.

Austen is clear where she stands.
Mansfield Park, Chapter 24
...[Mary] left Fanny to her fate, a fate which, had not Fanny's heart been guarded in a way unsuspected by Miss Crawford, might have been a little harder than she deserved; for although there doubtless are such unconquerable young ladies of eighteen (or one should not read about them) as are never to be persuaded into love against their judgment by all that talent, manner, attention, and flattery can do, I have no inclination to believe Fanny one of them, or to think that with so much tenderness of disposition, and so much taste as belonged to her, she could have escaped heart-whole from the courtship (though the courtship only of a fortnight) of such a man as Crawford, in spite of there being some previous ill opinion of him to be overcome, had not her affection been engaged elsewhere.

Had her affections not been engaged elsewhere, Fanny might have ended pitifully as the sisters Bertram, heart-broken. Make no mistake. That was what Henry intended, and the reason she became a target is that she contradicted regarding the Mansfield theatricals, saying in no uncertain terms she was happy that Sir Thomas arrived when he did to put a halt to them. Henry, as he tells his sister, decided,
Mansfield Park, Chapter 24
"...I must try to get the better of this. Her looks say, 'I will not like you, I am determined not to like you'; and I say she shall."

As it turned out, Henry did fall for Fanny and wanted to marry her. It was not love but, I believe, his conviction, as he knew her better, that she would be soft prey--never whining, selfish or demanding--but always willing to bow and comply to the man she married. I don't think Henry really knew Fanny. He took her gentleness and patience for weakness that meant he would always be able to control her.

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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