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April 03, 2018 12:01AM
Just Application Notes

When I was posting Mansfield Gothic, Joy left a comment about Lady Bertram having a secret life which struck me as a great idea. (Moral of the story: LeAvE CoMmEnTs.) And then the JAOCTGOHONO challenge prompt was the Magna Carta and I got the germ of an idea. It didn't sprout in time for me to post it for the challenge and I got sidetracked by a different story, but it gives some insight into my writing process - the fact that I started thinking about this story 2.5 years ago and now have ~2,000 words to show for it.

So I'll probably never wake up and think that MP is my favorite JA novel. There is an “ick” factor I hope I don't outgrow but that doesn't mean I can't be inspired by it. However, my inspiration is probably a little twisted.

And in the interest of paying it forward and giving comments that might lead to more stories, I'd like to write about another woman in the cast who can be fascinating if you think about it.

I'm slowly coming around to Maria Bertram Rushworth. I read an article recently on the topic of #metoo about how there is no real consent without power and it got me thinking of her. While my original opinion of her was “Lydia Bennett but with means”, I'm starting to question that simplicity. If a woman’s choices are (a) sexually submit to some guy, or (b) social/professional torment or death, without any mention of option (c), then I really loathe everyone who gave her those choices. Yes, Austen includes a line that Sir Thomas asked Maria if she wanted to marry Rushworth, and we can deduce that Crawford didn't forcibly abduct her from her home, but what was her other option?

While Sir Thomas does give Maria an option to cancel the wedding, and it is certainly written as if he was sincere, he also doesn't force Fanny into accepting Crawford's proposal but merely berates her to tears and sends her to Portsmouth (a place he might know if he paid attention that would be dangerously unhealthy for his niece) so that she will eventually be coerced into saying yes. So I tend to believe that he might come to regret Maria taking the easy out and find some way to punish her, and I do not fault Maria for not taking it. But what does that leave her with?

We can guess that there was no backup fiance after Rushworth and Crawford. There's no mention of how many marriageable young men are in their social circle for Maria to aim for next, and after being courted by and unofficially engaged to Rushworth for so long, Maria can probably forget about finding another husband locally. Maybe I'm imagining an Austenian bro-code that didn't exist (or maybe Rushworth didn't have bros), but given Rushworth was the most eligible bachelor for miles around, who else might attempt to court Maria?

Could she count on finding a husband further afield? There's no mention of Maria going to London or elsewhere (à la Elizabeth Elliott) for husband-hunting and while JA leaves enough blanks for us imagine all sorts of things, it doesn't feel likely to me given Lady B’s inactivity, Aunt Norris’ miserliness, or Sir Thomas’ recent absence and usual neglect. And JA does observe that Sir Thomas is content to have Maria marry Rushworth because he assumes she'll continue to spend a lot of time at Mansfield, so I don't think he's planning on going anywhere. So it's either Rushworth or no one.

And I doubt she wants to stay at Mansfield Park forever, but even if her mother dies, she cannot be confident on taking over (again like Elizabeth Elliot) as mistress of the manor with her Aunt Norris already being so helpful.

So what choice does she have? Is it really a choice to steal food when the alternative is starving to death? Is it really a choice to marry Rushworth when the alternative is what? stagnation? social suicide? How far up the hierarchy of needs do we have to go before we can make real choices? How much power over our own lives must we be given before we can be trusted to act honestly rather than in desperation?

(As for her running off with someone, I'm not fully there yet, but I'm leaning toward “knowing that the game is rigged so you will never win, let's stop playing nice and burn the whole thing down” mentality. That Crawford (a) ruins her brother's happiness with Mary Crawford, (b) makes life difficult between her parents and the Grants at Mansfield, and (c) exposes Crawford to be the cad he is makes him an ideal choice without even considering whether Fanny would be hurt by his betrayal or grateful for her escape.)

Flame on?

And one more thing and a complete non-sequitur: happy birthday to me!

The Just Application (complete)

NN SApril 02, 2018 10:56PM

Re: The Just Application (complete)

Alicia MApril 06, 2018 02:50AM

Re: The Just Application (complete)

NickiApril 04, 2018 10:58PM

Re: The Just Application (complete)

ShannaGApril 03, 2018 06:26PM

Re: The Just Application (complete)

Maria VApril 03, 2018 09:29AM


NN SApril 03, 2018 12:01AM

Yay, a thread about MP -- my favorite! (really long post)

Alicia MApril 06, 2018 02:54AM

Re: notes

AlidaApril 03, 2018 01:56AM

Re: notes

PearlApril 05, 2018 09:52AM

Re: notes

AlidaApril 05, 2018 01:06PM

Re: notes

PearlApril 05, 2018 01:43PM

Re: notes

AlidaApril 06, 2018 01:09AM

Re: notes

Alicia MApril 06, 2018 03:02AM


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