Mansfield Park: Novel summary: Chapter 5 - 10
Summary – Chapter Five, Chapter Six and Chapter Seven
The ‘young people’ (the Crawfords and Bertrams) are pleased with each other and Mr Crawford assures Mrs Grant he likes Julia the best because she has ordered him to. She reminds him Miss Bertram (Maria) is engaged and he says he likes her the better for it.
Miss Crawford wonders to the Miss Bertrams about Fanny and if she is ‘out’ or not. Edmund says he knows what she means, ‘“but the outs and not outs are beyond me”’. They discuss female manners and Miss Crawford asks again if Fanny goes to balls and if she dines out at other places and Edmund says ‘“no”’ and explains she is always with his mother and his mother does not go anywhere.
At dinner, in Chapter Six, Mr Rushworth talks about the changes to be made at Sotherton Court (his home) and Fanny expresses pity that the avenue of trees leading up to it are to be felled.
The conversation turns to Miss Crawford and her wish to have a cart to transport her harp. Edmund explains it is harvest time and horses cannot be spared. Her brother will bring it in his barouche and Fanny and Edmund look forward to hearing her play.
The talk returns to Sotherton and Miss Crawford suggests her brother as an adviser to Mr Rushworth. Both men agree to this and Mrs Norris suggests they all go there as a party. She also says her sister and Fanny will stay at home and Lady Bertram makes no objections. Everybody but Edmund ‘expresses their ready concurrence’ and he is described as having heard all and said nothing.
Chapter Seven begins the next day and Edmund asks Fanny what she thinks of Miss Crawford. They discuss some matters of impropriety in the way she had spoken of her uncle (with whom she and her brother have lived after the death of their parents), but both like her. His admiration is greater, though, and when Miss Crawford’s harp arrives he is at the parsonage every day to listen to her play. By the end of the week, he has fallen in love with her and he pleases her ‘for the present’.
He lends Miss Crawford the horse that Fanny has been using and returns it on time for her to use it on the first day. On the second day, Fanny waits for the horse again, but this time the horse and Edmund do not appear. She looks down toward the parsonage and sees a group on horseback and this includes Edmund and Miss Crawford. The sound of merriment reaches her and she feels a pang but cannot help but watch them. Edmund and Miss Crawford return the horse and Fanny makes sure she does not appear rude or impatient.
Later, Edmund asks if Fanny means to ride the next day and she says he may have the mare. He explains Miss Crawford would like it for a whole morning, but only for pleasure and not her health (which is the reason for Fanny). Fanny says she is strong enough now to walk very well and Edmund looks pleased. The next morning a party of young people, but not Fanny, go for a ride. The success of this trip leads to others for the following four mornings.
On the fourth day, Miss Bertram is put out as Mrs Grant invites Julia and Edmund, but not her, to dine at the parsonage. This is arranged with the belief that Mr Rushworth will be at the park. He does not come, though, and Miss Bertram is sullen with her mother, aunt and cousin over dinner.
Julia and Edmund return in good spirits until they notice the gloom. He asks after Fanny and Fanny lets them know she is on the sofa at the other end of the room. Mrs Norris chides her and says she should not be idling. Edmund worries if she has a headache and Fanny says she has but it is not too bad. It comes out that she has been cutting roses in the heat and has crossed the park twice to Mrs Norris’s house. Edmund is angry with his mother and aunt, but angrier with himself for his forgetfulness of her. He is ashamed to think of her left for four days without riding and, although unwilling, he thinks he will have to ‘check a pleasure of Miss Crawford’s’.
Analysis – Chapter Five, Chapter Six and Chapter Seven
Edmund’s increasing attraction to Miss Crawford is developed in these chapters and his ‘forgetfulness’ of Fanny also highlights her isolation and growing love for him. She feels a pang when she sees the others out riding and it is typical of her characterization that she accepts this stoically on the surface. Her passivity is once more alluded to when only Edmund notices she is lying on the sofa, in the same room as her aunts, and he
When Fanny and Edmund first discuss their impressions of Miss Crawford, they both agree that they like her but also have concerns of her impropriety – in that she speaks more freely in her criticisms of others (as with her uncle) and in comparison to Fanny is less adept at, or perhaps concerned with, conforming to patriarchal rules.
Fanny goes riding again the next day and Mr Rushworth arrives with his mother to arrange the visit to Sotherton. Mrs Rushworth invites Lady Bertram, but she declines and Mrs Norris declines on behalf of Fanny. When Edmund appears, he says how there will be room for Fanny to go. Mrs Norris says she is to stay with his mother and is not expected. He says he will stay at home instead.
Fanny is grateful when she hears of the plan, but Edmund is not aware of her ‘fond attachment’ of him and she has some pain and thinks seeing Sotherton ‘would be nothing without him’. A further meeting between the Mansfield families leads Mrs Grant to offer to stay with Lady Bertram and Edmund can now join the party too.
In Chapter Nine, Mr Rushworth greets them at his home and his mother shows them around. Miss Crawford has only the appearance of listening civilly whereas Fanny listens with ‘unaffected earnestness’. They all visit the family chapel and Miss Crawford says something disparaging about the clergy. When she realizes Edmund is to be ordained, she looks ‘almost aghast’ and says if she had known she would have spoken of the cloth with more respect.
Outside, Julia finds herself with Mrs Rushworth and because of politeness she cannot extricate herself and join the others.
Miss Crawford, Edmund and Fanny are another group and on their walk Miss Crawford asks Edmund about his profession and questions the role of clergymen who she rarely sees out of the pulpit. He says she is speaking of London and that ‘“we do not look in our great cities for our best morality”’ and goes on to talk about good principles. She notices Fanny is convinced, but she is not and says he is ‘“fit for something better”’ such as the law.
Fanny wants to rest and sits down, but after a while Miss Crawford says resting fatigues her and says she wants to go and look through the iron gate. Edmund tries to reason her out of it, but ‘she would not calculate, she would not compare’. Fanny says she is rested, but he insists she stays seated and he and Miss Crawford carry on walking. She regrets she is not stronger.
In Chapter Ten, Fanny is alone for 20 minutes until Miss Bertram, Mr Rushworth and Mr Crawford appear. They sit and talk until Miss Bertram expresses a wish to go through the iron gate into the park and Mr Rushworth goes to fetch the key. Miss Bertram says to Mr Crawford that the gate gives her a feeling of ‘“restraint and hardship”’. He aligns the key with Mr Rushworth’s authority and protection. She thinks she can pass round the gate with Mr Crawford’s assistance and he says he thinks it is possible ‘“and could allow yourself to think it not prohibited”’. She says this is nonsense and she can and will get out. He says he will go with her and Miss Price can tell Mr Rushworth where they have gone. Fanny thinks it is wrong and tries to prevent them by warning of the dangers. They leave anyway and she is alone once more.
Julia appears next and asks where the others are. She finds out where her sister and Mr Crawford have gone and climbs over the same fence to catch them up. Mr Rushworth joins Fanny five minutes later and she tells him they have gone to the knoll. He decides not to follow and sits down gloomily. She encourages him to go after them and he does so finally.
After an hour of waiting, Fanny decides to find Edmund and Miss Crawford. As she sets off, she hears Miss Crawford’s voice and they all walk together to the house. It is late before the others return and when they leave Mr Crawford asks Julia to sit with him again on the box. Miss Bertram is a little disappointed, but has some comfort in believing herself to be the preferred one.
Analysis – Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine and Chapter Ten
The iron gate is a symbol of imprisonment and it is telling that Miss Crawford, Maria and Julia are all drawn to question its presence. Fanny is alone of the younger females in not being tempted to question the authority it represents. As Mr Crawford insinuates, it could be seen to represent the conformity of marriage. This is established further when Maria chooses to climb over the fence with him rather than submit to it and wait for her intended to fetch the key to unlock it.
Fanny’s love for Edmund is referred to in a little more detail as it becomes more evident that she has moved beyond the filial love she had experienced as a child. His blindness to this is in keeping with his brotherly love for her, and is also a reminder that he is blinkered in his vision when it comes to romantic attachments. His fondness for Miss Crawford is seen to dominate his thoughts.