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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Quaking Ducks and Drakes in Mansfield Park....

"In their very last conversation, Miss Crawford, in spite of some amiable sensations, and much personal kindness, had still been Miss Crawford; still shewn a mind led astray and bewildered, and without any suspicion of being so; darkened, yet fancying itself light."

Diane, see the above passage, which to me is the point of convergence of the two seemingly disconnected threads we have been discussing today so profitably: the reliability of Mary Crawford's descriptions of Dr. Grant, and the Quaker subtext in MP.

First, from what I understand, the Evangelicals came later and stole that concept of "the inner light" from the Quakers. Second, I think the above narration depicting Fanny's thoughts about Mary crystallizes what I am saying about Mary---she is not in her heart of hearts evil, but the inner light has been "darkened" (by early trauma and/or abuse, and also by Henry's very very very bad influence), so that Mary no longer accurately perceives her own heart. She can still see wrongdoing in others, I claim, and indeed is driven to do so by her still partially-active conscience--but not in herself and not in Henry.

So I consider her a very reliable observer of Dr. Grant, but a tragically bad observer of herself and Henry--who is a sadistic, degenerate jaded pervert who gets his kicks (just like Lovelace) trying to make holes in pure hearts, but who was also, perhaps, a youthful partner in suffering traumas from a horrific upbringing, and so somehow entitled to a permanent free pass in her mind.

If it weren't for the Admiral and Henry, the two devils of her life, I think Mary might have turned out all right.

Cheers, ARNIE

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