By Bernard J. Paris
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Extra resources for Character and Conflict in Jane Austen’s Novels A PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH
The author wishes us to believe in Henry's chances for thematic purposes, so we will feel that he has destroyed himself, that he could have been rewarded had he remained virtuous. Fanny has a serious objection, of course, to Henry's moral character. She has observed his flirtations with Maria and Julia, and she has " 'received an impression which will never be got over' "(III, iv). -Oh! ' " (11, v). When Henry begins his attentions, Fanny surmises, quite correctly, that "he wanted ... to cheat her of her tranquillity as he had cheated" her cousins of theirs (II, viii).
Price is "most injudiciously indulgent" (III, viii). Susan, who has taken over Fanny's place in the family, has never known "the blind fondness which was for ever producing evil around her" (III, ix). As we might expect, it is Susan who is the good child. She tries to create a better order in her home, but finds that it is fruitless to contend with an irrational authority. She profits from Fanny's lessons on submission and forebearance and flourishes when transplanted to the well-ordered world of Mansfield Park.
To be angry with others for their treatment of her is to risk their anger in return and possibly their rejection. This she cannot do. She must handle abuse by belittling herself, by feeling that the way she is treated is perfectly reasonable, considering her inconsequence. Any recognition, any triumph, threatens to upset this solution; and Fanny responds by anxiously reaffirming her unworthiness. Her taboos against pride are so powerful that she does not even take satisfaction in her 46 Mansfield Park own humility-though the author makes sure that it is properly appreciated.