Mansfield Park

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Mansfield Park Chapter 36 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Edmund and Sir Thomas discuss Fanny and Henry once again, with both agreeing that Fanny will be convinced to love Henry eventually. Fanny, meanwhile, worries about the possibility of Mary coming to visit them, fearing her anger. When Mary does pay them a visit, she is in the breakfast room with her aunt. As a result, Mary cannot be outwardly angry with Fanny. Mary, though, asks Fanny if they can speak privately, and they leave the room together.
Edmund and Sir Thomas continue to ignore Fanny’s clearly stated insistence that she will not marry Henry. Their conviction that Fanny could love him eventually, since she will not marry him without love, suggests that they view love as learnable, rather than as a perfect spiritual or emotional match.
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The two head upstairs to the East Room. Mary exclaims that she was only in the room once before, when she and Edmund were practicing their lines, and she reminisces about the play. Mary then collects herself and tells Fanny that she had intended to express her anger, but that she didn’t have the heart for it, since she loves Fanny and will not see her for a long time once she goes away. Mary’s words make Fanny start to cry.
Mary recalls the play and the painful instance when Fanny had to help Edmund and Mary practice their love scene. Mary ends up failing to be mad at Fanny, and expresses that she will love and miss her. Mary’s emotions seem genuine, but her later unreliability in corresponding through letters troubles that idea.
Themes
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon
Fanny then says that Mary should not be sad, since Mary is going to stay with friends, albeit different ones, but Mary says she doesn’t like her other friends as much. Mary then goes on to tell Fanny that she wishes she could show Fanny how Henry talks about her when she is not there, as it is so affectionate and moving, despite the fact that many other women are vying for his attention.
Mary’s heartfelt goodbye provokes a strong emotional reaction in Fanny. It is unclear, however, exactly why, since Fanny continues to express her dislike for Mary in her inner monologue because she does not think Mary is good enough for Edmund.
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Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Mary tries many tactics to convince Fanny of the authenticity of Henry’s affection, starting by pointing out his attention to her at the ball. Mary does not defend his history of liberal flirtation with other women, but says that the way he acts toward Fanny is something else entirely. Mary then reminds Fanny of his tenacity in securing William’s promotion, the most powerful argument in Fanny’s mind.
Mary uses this opportunity to tell Fanny how much Henry loves her and how he has changed for the better, trying to leverage their emotional intimacy. Though Mary’s goodbye seemed heartfelt, it is unclear whether it was genuine or just a strategic setup to talk about Henry.
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Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
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The two hug. Mary asks Fanny to write her letters and to look after Mrs. Grant. Fanny agrees, though not too enthusiastically, to the letter writing. She is relieved that the conversation went much better than she’d hoped. The pair then return downstairs. Later in the evening, Henry bids Fanny goodbye with only a touch of her hand, seeming sadder than usual, and leaves. The next day, the Crawfords leave Mansfield.
That Fanny does not want to keep up a correspondence with Mary indicates that, although she pretends they are friends, Fanny in fact does not like Mary very much—so while Fanny is often held up as the book’s most moral character, she also appears to be not so genuine with Mary.
Themes
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Letters and Character Theme Icon