Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Fanny has not forgotten the previous day’s events, and she wishes Henry would go away and take Mary with him. She is surprised to find Henry at the house again that day, but he does not come up to the East Room. Instead, Sir Thomas comes in and is surprised to find that Fanny has no fire going despite the cold. Sir Thomas insists that she must have a fire, despite Mrs. Norris’s stinginess.
Sir Thomas’s surprise that Fanny does not have a fire shows his new consideration for her comfort, and his insistence that she should have a fire represents her newfound place as a full-fledged, equal member of the family, rather than a dependent, lower class cousin.
Themes
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
Sir Thomas then tells Fanny that Henry came to talk to him about his love for her, and that Henry is downstairs waiting. Fanny tells him she already rejected Henry, and Sir Thomas is confused, saying that Henry implied that they had discussed it and Fanny seemed to approve. Fanny explained that she did no such thing. Sir Thomas does not understand why Fanny would reject Henry, since he seems like a great match. Sir Thomas begins to suggest that Fanny might love someone else, but then dismisses the possibility. Sir Thomas says he regrets that neither she nor Edmund will marry early.
Henry’s revelation of his love to Sir Thomas, and his implication that Fanny already expressed her approval, is a highly manipulative move, since Henry knows that Sir Thomas will approve of the financially and socially advantageous marriage. Sir Thomas’s influence over Fanny is significant, since she feels a deep debt of gratitude to him, making Henry’s recruitment of Sir Thomas’s approval unfair.
Themes
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Sir Thomas presses Fanny about why she does not like Henry, and Fanny wants to tell him about how Henry played with Maria and Julia’s affections, but does not want to betray them to their father. Sir Thomas says he is frustrated and disappointed that Fanny seems to be rejecting the match for no reason, that she did not think of how it might have benefited her family, and that she is being ungrateful and selfish. Fanny begins to cry and apologizes. Sir Thomas softens and thinks that perhaps she is just nervous, and can be convinced to accept Henry’s offer. He leaves to tell Henry the bad news.
As anticipated, Sir Thomas does press Fanny on her reasons for not wanting to marry Henry. Henry probably guesses that Fanny’s sense of propriety will prevent her from telling Sir Thomas about Henry’s flirtation with Maria and Julia, as she will not want to betray them. Sir Thomas, who thinks advantageous marriages are more important than loving ones as long as it is a good match, cannot understand Fanny’s hesitation.
Themes
Money and Marriage Theme Icon
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
Sir Thomas returns a half hour later to tell Fanny that Henry is gone. Sir Thomas promises not to tell anyone want happened, and tells Fanny to go for a walk outside. Fanny obeys, and when she returns to the East Room she finds a fire burning in the hearth.
Though Sir Thomas is mad at Fanny, he still sends someone to light a fire in Fanny’s room, affirming that Fanny still retains her elevated place in his esteem.
Themes
Inheritance and Meritocracy Theme Icon
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When Fanny sees Mrs. Norris at dinner, Mrs. Norris criticizes her for not telling her she was going out so she could give her some errands to do. Fanny believes that Sir Thomas’s anger is abated when he sees how badly Mrs. Norris treats Fanny. Fanny hopes that when Henry goes away to London he will forget about her. After tea, a servant calls Fanny into Sir Thomas’s room, where she finds not Sir Thomas, but Henry.
Mrs. Norris, as usual, treats Fanny miserably. Yet unlike previously, when Sir Thomas might have turned a blind eye, Fanny now thinks this makes him more sympathetic to her. Fanny’s hope that Henry will forget her in London speaks to her sense that London is a distracting space with lots of other women.
Themes
Manners vs. Morality Theme Icon
The Country vs. the City Theme Icon