Chapter 20

This is the closest Fanny's come to giving herself a compliment in comparison to other people. At least, Edmund suggests that's what she's doing. I can't be sure. She learned to admire gravity in Edmund, so it must be a trait she admires; on the other hand, it's out of character for her to realize she has good qualities that not everyone has. She probably is making an observation that is true enough, and accidentally acknowledging her own superiority in some areas because part of her is conscious of it. As I've mentioned before, Fanny is self-confident when it comes to knowing she values good things. It might be the first time she's openly connected it to how other people value those same things.

She's afraid of notice because she knows she's not supposed to have it the way other women know it's necessary. The authorities in the Bertram family intended to make her feel she didn't deserve much notice, and that can't be erased by Sir Thomas changing his mind a bit now.

Anyway, Fanny/Mary! I ship it a little. Even if Fanny can't like her much right now. Yet another connection is made through Edmund: first their both paying attention to him on their way to Sotherton, and now Edmund bringing up Mary's powers of perception. He hasn't realized that Fanny's her equal in this.

Pride and resolve are a burden for Maria here. Not strong enough to withstand Henry later, but so strong she couldn't wait for a different man she could like. I appreciate how she was very independent in her choosing. Not completely, not with the social expectations on her - those are a large part of why she would lose her pride not marrying Rushworth, and they are why Sir Thomas is ready to ignore what he saw. And a life of emphasis on social expectations is what makes for such a lack of a bond between Maria and her father. Between Julia and her father too. (They might have wanted independence if there were such a bond, but it would have been different.) Maria's trying to take what she can out of what she's been led to expect from life.

On a personal level, I can empathize with Maria thinking her only two choices are marriage or lack of independence. It's the only thing that will get her out of the house, give her greater social power, and find new experiences in the world. To think that Sir Thomas is pleased because an unhappy marriage should keep her home forever! He did offer to get her out, and she did make her own choice that he isn't to blame for, but he put his fantasy above her actual self.

Julia 'could better bear a subordinate situation' and wouldn't fight as hard as Maria to get more. The way they were raised did have an effect. The oldest is meant to be married first. Maria was the most catered to by Mrs. Norris, who according to Wikipedia (I can't find it in the book's first page;hopefully Wikipedia isn't wrong) is the oldest sister. Mrs. Norris in particular would want the oldest sister to have the advantage. Arranging Maria's marriage was important to her. I think Julia adapted to thinking herself as lower than her sister the way Fanny adapted to thinking herself the lowest of the family. That was strained with Henry Crawford, but he did pretend to think them equal at first and his effect involved their deep feelings overcoming socially appropriate thinking and behavior. Once he's gone, Julia can settle easily into friendship and a lower place with Maria again.

Lastly, of course the sisters were missed. They didn't have very healthy relationships within the family, but it wasn't in such a way that would antagonize anybody, least of all the people who had the power to believe things had been as good as they looked. You get attached to what you're supposed to, and comfortable, as long as nothing is there to prevent or disrupt it. They were also Fanny and Lady Bertram's only female companions aside from Mrs. Norris.


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