Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Edmund goes to talk with his father about the play debacle, apologize, and say they are all at fault except for Fanny. Sir Thomas accepts his apology. Sir Thomas is, however extremely vexed that Mrs. Norris allowed the play to take place. She, not knowing how to handle it, derails the conversation when he tries to bring it up by monologuing about other things and flattering Sir Thomas until he gives up.
After his voyage to Antigua, Sir Thomas’s relationship with Mrs. Norris deteriorates over the course of the book, starting with his frustration that she allowed the play to take place. As Mrs. Norris tries to justify herself, Sir Thomas seems to see through her flattery for the first time, but does not push the issue.
Themes
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Sir Thomas takes stock of his estate and resumes his duties as a landowner. Every trace of the play is removed from the house. When Mr. Yates realizes the show will not go on, he is extremely disappointed.
Sir Thomas’s return relieves Edmund of the pressure to manage his estate, which he has been taking care of instead of Tom.
Themes
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
In the evening, Sir Thomas lounges in the drawing room while his daughters play music. Maria is nervous while she plays because she is hoping Henry will declare his love for her before she has to marry Mr. Rushworth. The Crawfords and the Bertrams, however, do not see each other for several days. Later, Dr. Grant and Henry come to Mansfield to greet Sir Thomas. Henry informs them he is going away from Mansfield for a while, but tells them that if the play will be resumed he will come back immediately.
Maria’s hope that Henry will propose so she will not have to marry Mr. Rushworth shows how little power she has as a woman in the system of courtship and marriage— she must wait for Henry to propose rather than declaring her love for him, and, if she does not marry Mr. Rushworth, she risks social disapproval for breaking the engagement.
Themes
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
The Country vs. the City Theme Icon
Tom tells Henry that there is no chance that the play will be resumed. Henry says goodbye to Maria, who cannot understand why he is going away since he is supposed to be in love with her. Julia is happy when he leaves, now bitter about the love triangle in which she “lost.” Fanny is also happy to hear that Henry is gone.
Maria’s heartbreak when Henry does not propose is poignant, despite Maria’s shallowness as a character, because it dooms Maria to choose between potential spinsterhood and financial insecurity and marrying a man she does not love.
Themes
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
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At last Mr. Yates leaves as well. Sir Thomas is thrilled, because he loathes Mr. Yates. Finally, Mrs. Norris removes the theatre curtain she made.
Mr. Yates’s misstep has not blown over with Sir Thomas, and the removal of the curtain marks the play as officially over.
Themes
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon