Friday, 30 April 2010


Tomorrow is Manfield Park day for our reading group. Our meeting is at 5 p.m in the afternoon. I must confess - I have already written this somewhere, I think - I always fear one of our meeting might  turn out something like this ... (watch the video below)

What disappointment for the Vicar! But what fun for us watching them!

While I was  getting my notes and videos ready , suddenly something came to mind: I hadn't posted the answers to the questions!  So, here they are at last.

Answers to the questions posted here

I / I How many children do the Price family have, and what are theirnames and ages at the start of the novel's main narrative?
Mrs Price (poor woman) has ten successful pregnancies in all, and Mary dies, leaving nine surviving Price children. They are, in descending order: William, Fanny, John (offstage), Richard (offstage), Susan, Mary (deceased), Sam, Tom, Charles, and finally little Betsey. When the sisters, as recorded in the opening pages, renew contact, Mrs Price has eight children (Mary still being alive) and is expecting her ninth, Charles.  Fanny, going then to Mansfield Park and never revisiting her home, does not meet Charles and Betsey until she returns to Portsmouth years later.

1/2 How recently has Mrs Norris seen her sister, Mrs Price, at the time of the novel's main action? 
She says 'she had not seen her poor dear sister Price for more than twenty years'. Even after the reconciliation which was sealed with the dispatch of Fanny, and despite the fact that she is Betsey's godmother, she has not made the relatively short (thirty-six-hour by coach) trip to Portsmouth. Presumably, (wealthy) skinflint that she is, Mrs Norris begrudges the expense of travel and overnight accommodation at an inn. Nor has Mrs Price ever been received at Mansfield Park. Which raises the question: after Fanny marries Edmund, will she be invited?

1/3 What argument does Mrs Norris adduce for the safety of introducing a girl into the Bertram family—specifically with regard to the two young sons of the family?

'Breed her up with them . . . and suppose her even to have the beauty of an angel, and she will never be more to either than a sister.' Mary Crawford, much later, observes that Fanny does indeed have a look of Edmund sometimes—a brother-sister similarity of feature.

I/4 Where does Miss Lee teach her three charges (Maria, Julia,and—latterly—Fanny) and what happens to the school-room?
It is the East room: so chosen because it will get the early morning light—when lessons begin. Facing east, it will also be cold, which is why Mrs Norris's prohibition on a fire being lit there, after Fanny takes it over as her study on Miss Lee's departure, is so cruel.

1/5 Who does Mrs Norris declare can help Fanny dress herself?
Either of the housemaids (that is, not a personal attendant, but a skivvy whose normal work is room cleaning).
1/6 How much older are Julia and Maria than Fanny?
Two and three years, respectively. Tom (a Cambridge man—who evidently spent more time at the racecourse at Newmarket than in his classroom) is seven years older, and Edmund (whose absence at
Eton and Oxford is only summarily described) is a couple of years younger than Tom.

1/7 How often does Fanny see William in the nine years she spends at Mansfield Park, and how often other members of her family?
She sees William twice. On the second occasion, when she is 18, they return together to Portsmouth. She has seen no member of her family—even on the occasion of the death of a favourite sister, Mary—in the intervening years.

1/8 How much income does Mrs Norris have?
Six hundred pounds a year, and free tenancy in the estate's 'White House'. She is rich. Presumably her elderly husband was as frugal as she.

1/9 What advantageous physical attributes does Henry Crawford possess?
He has good teeth, a pleasing address, 'so much countenance', and is 'well made' (that is, he has an athletic figure). But he is said to be 'plain' and, as the lofty (but stupid) Mr Rushworth points out, is short in stature—ambiguously five foot eight or  nine inches. From which we may assume that Rushworth is a bulky six-footer.
I / IO What does Dr Grant think to be 'an insipid fruit at the best'?
Apricots, thus condemning Mrs Norris's boasts about her superior Moor Park tree.
I / I I Why has Mary Crawford never ridden a horse, before coming to Mansfield (and appropriating Fanny's steed)?

It is odd. One assumes that her life has been entirely metropolitan and that she has never even spent any time at Everingham. But riding is not a universal attainment among the women in Jane Austen's world (can Emma ride, or Elizabeth?).

1/12 Who sits alongside Henry on the 'barouche box' on the visit to Sotherton?
 'Happy Julia'. Maria seethes. It is, of course, Mrs Grant who has placed Julia there as the eligible sister, hoping, evidently, that a match might be made. Maria is spoken for.

1/13 What are the 'curious pheasants'?
Ornamental breeds, as opposed to the preserved birds which Mr Rushworth's keepers raise at Sotherton. The ornamental birds were for ladies, as decorative garden pets. The preserved pheasants, in the nearby woods and moors, were for gentlemen to shoot.

1/14 Why did Mrs Whitaker, the housekeeper at Sotherton, turn away two housemaids?
For wearing white gowns—a privilege reserved for the ladies of the house. Fanny, for example, has a
white gown at her first dinner party; as Edmund gallantly says on that occasion, 'A woman can never be too fine while she is all in white.' A woman, but not a maidservant.

1/15 What is Fanny Price's favourite reading?
Poetry, biography,and improving essays. Not, definitely not, fiction.

1/16 Who is driven from home by a green goose?

Henry and Mary. Their reverend brother-in-law takes offence (becomes violent, indeed) when served a bird which has not been hung long nough. Without refrigerators it is a complex thing to have a bird 'mature' enough for the table—particularly the table of the epicurean Revd Dr Grant. At least, being fifteen years older than his wife, and a glutton, he will dig his grave with his teeth in a few years.

1/17 Where did Tom Bertram meet the Honourable John Yates?
At Weymouth, playground of wastrels in Austen's fiction.

1/18 Who divulges to Sir Thomas that private theatricals were inprospect?
Lady Bertram, who has lazily not followed the rehearsals and knows scarcely more about it than her amazed

1/19 Who says, pathetically, 'Every body gets made but me?
William. Promoted in the naval service, he means. He is, thanks to Admiral Crawford, eventually 'made' a lieutenant, and his career takes off.

1/20 What does William bring Fanny from Sicily?
 A 'very pretty amber cross'. Mary, symbolically, gives her a 'chain' to go with it. As she does so, Mary has a look around her eyes that Fanny 'could not be satisfied with'. As the reader will understand, Miss Crawford is scheming to capture the young girl for her brother.

1/21 What vessel is William posted to, after his promotion to lieutenant?
'H.M. sloop Thrush*.

1/22 Who thinks the alphabet 'hergreatest enemy'?
Little Betsey.

1/23 When she says 'what a difference a vowel makes \ what vowel is Mary Crawford thinking of?

The Hon. Mr John Yates 'rants' in his performance as Baron Wildenhaim. But he has not the 'rents', or income, to claim Julia as his bride.

1/24 How much does Sir Thomas give Fanny on her departure for Portsmouth?
Ten pounds. She does not, as she might, give the money to her mother. Part of it she expends on a silver knife for Betsey, another part on membership of the Portsmouth circulating library.
1/25 Where does Tom have the accident which precipitates the fever which leads, eventually, to his moral regeneration?
At Newmarket, drunkenly we presume, after a day at the races.

(Screencaps from angelfish /spikesbint Live Journal)

Questions & Answers from

No comments: