Mansfield Park

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Gold Chains Symbol Icon

Before the ball at Mansfield Park, William gives Fanny a beautiful cross meant to be hung from a necklace. She has no chain to hang it from, however. When she expresses this concern, Mary gives Fanny a beautiful, decorative gold chain that Henry gave to her—at Henry’s request. The same day, Edmund gives her a simpler gold chain that suits her better, but when he learns of Henry’s gift, he tells Fanny to wear Henry’s instead. Ultimately, Fanny cannot wear the one that Henry gave her through Mary, because it does not fit the cross. The two different gold chains symbolize the two different options that Fanny has in Henry and Edmund. Henry’s chain’s ornateness and apparent expense represent how Henry, with his wealth and charm, might seem like the right choice for Fanny. However, Edmund’s chain, which is simpler and more fitting to Fanny’s tastes, is the one that actually fits her needs. Significantly, Edmund’s chain fits the cross, symbolizing how Edmund fits better with Fanny’s sense of morality and religiosity.

Gold Chains Quotes in Mansfield Park

The Mansfield Park quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gold Chains. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Mansfield Park published in 2001.
Chapter 27 Quotes

Two lines more prized had never fallen from the pen of the most distinguished author— never more completely blessed the researches of the fondest biographer. The enthusiasm of a woman’s love is even beyond the biographer’s. To her, the handwriting itself, independent of anything it may convey, is a blessedness. Never were such characters cut by any other human being as Edmund’s commonest handwriting gave! This specimen, written in haste as it was, had not a fault; and there was a felicity in the flow of the first four words, in the arrangement of “My very dear Fanny,” which she could have looked at for ever.

Related Characters: Fanny Price, Edmund Bertram
Related Symbols: Gold Chains
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

Fanny, having walked into the East Room, encounters Edmund writing her a note to leave along with the gold chain he bought for her. After Fanny explains how Mary has also given her a chain, they discuss the matter and then Edmund leaves. Fanny, once he is gone, admires the letter he was writing her.

This quote clearly displays the intensity of Fanny’s love for Edmund, as she obsesses over Edmund’s handwriting. When Fanny says that the two lines Edmund wrote are more prized than the work of the “most distinguished author,” her focus on authorship speaks to her preoccupation with the writer rather than what has been written. Edmund’s note is not exactly poetry, just a message to indicate that the chain is for her, with the affectionate opening “my very dear Fanny.” Still, for Fanny, the authorship of the letter is the important part. This quote shows how authorship can overshadow content or style in letters and perhaps even writing in general.

To Fanny, the letter, even more so than the actual gift of the gold chain, is proof that Edmund cares about her. She refers to the note as a “specimen,” as if her study is a search for scientific truth. This instance is one of many examples in the book of letters being viewed as evidentiary material.

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Gold Chains Symbol Timeline in Mansfield Park

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gold Chains appears in Mansfield Park. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 26
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...bought her a cross that she would like to wear, but she has no gold chain to wear it with, and so she frets that she will have to put it... (full context)
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...necklace. Mary, knowing that Fanny intends to wear William’s cross, but that she has no chain for it, tells Fanny to pick one of Mary’s own gold chains as a gift... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Mary, however, insists, and Fanny at last chooses the gold chain that she thinks is the plainest and least expensive. Fanny does not like being indebted... (full context)
Chapter 27
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
...for her, and was just writing her a note asking her to accept a gold chain that he bought her for William’s cross. He leaves the chain on the table and... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Fanny then tells Edmund that Mary has just gifted her a gold chain, and she asks Edmund’s advice as to whether she should return it. Edmund insists that... (full context)
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
...with him and the Admiral, puts her in good spirits. She tries to thread Mary’s chain through the cross, but it does not fit, and so she happily has an excuse... (full context)
Chapter 28
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
...Fanny ends up near Mary, and explains to her that she is not wearing her chain because it did not fit, and that Edmund gave her another chain that did. Mary... (full context)