Mansfield Park: Novel summary: Chapter 25 - 30
Summary – Chapter Twenty Five, Chapter Twenty Six and Chapter Twenty Seven
The Grants invite the Bertrams to the parsonage for a dinner. Afterwards, they play cards and Mr Crawford shows Fanny and Lady Bertram how to play speculation. As they talk, Mr Crawford tells Edmund how he happened upon Thornton Lacey, which is ‘the name of his impending living’. Mr Crawford suggests changes, such as removing the farmyard to give it ‘“the air of a gentleman’s residence”’.
Miss Crawford mentions her brother’s planning at Sotherton and he says in a low voice to Fanny to not think of him as he appeared then. Mr Crawford tells Fanny and then Sir Thomas that he wants to be their neighbor and to be Edmund’s tenant. Edmund says for him to come to him as a friend. Before they leave, William talks of how he would like to see Fanny dance.
The next morning, in Chapter Twenty Six, Sir Thomas speaks of the previous night’s conversation and says William will have the chance to see Fanny dance as they will have a ball at home. A date is settled on and invitations are sent out.
Edmund’s thoughts are on his impending ordination and the idea of matrimony (to Miss Crawford). He knows she has been thinking of spending a long visit to a dear friend in London.
The day before the ball Fanny walks to the parsonage for advice on what to wear and how she should wear the cross her brother has given her. Miss Crawford meets her on the way and has anticipated her need and lets her choose one of her gold chains to hang it on. Fanny picks one finally, after much persuasion, and says she will remember her for it. Miss Crawford says her brother gave it so she must remember him too. Fanny tries to give it back, but Miss Crawford insists it is not a trick and tells her to keep it. Fanny still has doubts and thinks of Miss Crawford as ‘complaisant as a sister’, but ‘careless as a woman and a friend’.
In Chapter Twenty Seven, Fanny is at home and goes to the East room to deposit her necklace there and finds Edmund writing at a table. He has been writing a note to her to tell her he has the gift of a chain for her cross. It is a simple, plain chain (unlike the one of Miss Crawford’s). She thanks him profusely and tells him of Miss Crawford’s gift and that she will return it.
He says this would be mortifying to Miss Crawford and advises her to wear it for the ball and keep his for ‘“commoner occasions”’. He does not want ‘“the shadow of coolness”’ to arise between ‘“the two dearest objects I have on earth”’ and sees some resemblance between them. She is pleased to be one of his ‘objects’, but feels a stab that he speaks so openly of Miss Crawford and thinks he will marry her. She thinks he is deceived in Miss Crawford and that he no longer sees her faults. She locks up the scrap of paper he had been writing in her locket. This is the note to tell her of his gift and says ‘My very dear Fanny, you must do me the favour to accept’.
William is invited to join Mr Crawford in his carriage the next day as he is going to dine with the Admiral. Meanwhile, preparations are made for the ball. Edmund tells Fanny he has engaged Miss Crawford to dance the first two dances with him. He goes on to talk about Miss Crawford and says although her ‘“disposition”’ is as ‘“sweet and faultless”’ as Fanny’s, Miss Crawford sometimes speaks ‘“evil”’ in playfulness. Fanny says it is the ‘“effect of education”’ and he agrees.
As Fanny prepares for the ball, she finds Edmund’s chain is the only one that fits her cross. She also wears Miss Crawford’s chain and is satisfied with both.
Analysis – Chapter Twenty Five, Chapter Twenty Six and Chapter Twenty Seven
Edmund’s divided view of Miss Crawford is spoken of aloud when he tells Fanny of is concerns about the way she sometimes speaks ‘evil’ in playfulness. By also seeing her as ‘sweet and faultless’, it is understandable that he is confused.
He agrees with Fanny’s point that it is an ‘effect of education’ and yet this clouds the issue further. He has been seen to have earlier supported the education of Fanny, in terms of the reading she undertook, so perhaps education may be understood as too much education, and she is now too clever for her own good. Education also implies influence, and the influence of the Admiral and the city have been, it is suggested, negative in their impact on Miss Crawford. It is also of note that it is the education of a woman that is under debate, and a further implication is that Miss Crawford is deemed too opinionated for her gender.
Summary – Chapter Twenty Eight, Chapter Twenty Nine and Chapter Thirty
Fanny comes down to her aunts and uncle and when she leaves the room he remarks on her beauty. Mrs Norris says she has reason to look well given the advantages she has had being brought up by the family.
Mr Crawford asks Fanny to dance in the first dance and Sir Thomas says they will lead the way and open the ball. He will not let her question this. She can hardly believe it and feels as though she is being treated like her cousins.
Miss Crawford notices Sir Thomas’s pride in Fanny and praises her to him and Lady Bertram. She knows Mrs Norris ‘too well’ and praises the female cousins in their absence instead.
Later, and after dancing with Edmund, Fanny is tired and sits down and Mr Crawford joins her. She wishes to have breakfast with William alone, but Sir Thomas also invites Mr Crawford. He also advises Fanny to go to bed, and this is ‘the advice of absolute power’. By sending her away, Sir Thomas might not just be thinking of her health but also showing Mr Crawford ‘her persuadableness’.
In Chapter Twenty Nine, William leaves after breakfast and Fanny cries. Sir Thomas supposes she is also upset over Mr Crawford going too, but this is not the case. Edmund leaves shortly after for a week.
Miss Crawford feels only tediousness and vexation, and thinks of Edmund continually even though she is angry at him for ‘adhering to his own notions’ and acting on them against her wishes. She goes on to blame herself and wishes she had not spoken against the clergy as she did at the ball. He stays away longer than expected and for the first time she is jealous. He is staying with Mr Owen, who has sisters, and she thinks he might find them attractive. She feels wretched and goes to see Fanny ‘to try to learn something more’.
She says how she wants to see Edmund before she goes to London and asks if she knows what he is doing and if he is staying for ‘“Christmas gaieties”’. Fanny says she has heard only a part of his letter, which was written to Sir Thomas, and knows no details. Miss Crawford tells her about the Owen sisters and how accomplished they are, but Fanny says she does not know anything about them. Miss Crawford refers to one of the sisters settling at Thornton Lacey (with Edmund) and Fanny says she does not expect this to happen. On being asked, she agrees she does not expect to see him marry at present at least.
Miss Crawford’s ‘uneasiness’ is lightened in Chapter Thirty. Her brother returns and tells her he is determined to marry Fanny. Miss Crawford is astonished and says Fanny is lucky as it is a good match for her and also approves his choice. She is sure Fanny will marry him if he asks her to love him and will not have the heart to refuse him. He now says it was ‘“very bad”’ of him to have had the project before (of trying to get Fanny to fall in love with him). He also speaks of his plans of them living in Northamptonshire in this neighbourhood.
Analysis – Chapter Twenty Eight, Chapter Twenty Nine and Chapter Thirty
The Crawfords are invested with humane characteristics as they both appear to be smitten with their objects of affection. On Mr Crawford’s return, for example, he spells out his regret for his initial plan and is now the one in love with Fanny. Miss Crawford’s jealousy is also indicative of an overt attachment to Edmund.
Her response to her brother’s news is telling as she is surprised at the turn of events and also considers Fanny to be lucky for the decision he has made. Her certainty that Fanny will agree is in keeping with the faith in the notion of ‘good matches’ as he is wealthy and, as the readers witnessed, has attracted the Bertram sisters already.