The Meek Shall Inherit a Fistful of Teeth

Fanny’s character in Mansfield Park represents a sort of underdog that is seen in other Austen novels and in Burney’s Evelina. Austen’s novels typically end in a happy ending for the heroine of the novel. The same occurred for Evelina: finding, and claiming, her true parentage, becoming the young woman out in society Mr. Villars could be proud of, and finding herself married to Lord Orville, the man of her dreams. Fanny is no different than Evelina, born of poor circumstances, taken in by wealthier people than she, and through hardship finds herself married to the man she—secretly—loves. In typical society Fanny would not be the woman to envy, but the Maria and Julie Bertram girls, and Mary Crawford’s of the world are. Austen uses Fanny’s meek temperament in direct contrast to the aforementioned woman to place Fanny in a shining light.
Fanny’s inability to speak up for herself, opting instead for Edmund to speak up for her, portrays her as kind in comparison to Miss Crawford. Fanny insists that men “can write long letters” when “they are at a distance from all their family” (57). She never actually rejects Miss Crawford’s opinion that all men write short letters, simply thinks of her experience with William instead of actually explaining her situation as evidence against Miss Crawford’s strong opinion.
Fanny seems accustomed to being trampled on by women who surround her. When showing Miss Crawford to a guest room, Fanny takes the verbal and non-verbal abuse given to her. Miss Crawford “shook her head at Fanny with arch, yet affectionate reproach” to follow up those actions with this verbal quip: “Sad, sad girl! I do not know when I shall have done scolding you” (331). By being patient, Fanny is able to wait for Edmund’s obsession with Miss Crawford to pass; ultimately securing Edmund’s hand in marriage.
Edmund, no longer entertained by Ms. Crawford, gives Fanny the attention she deserves as his companion. Once Fanny is “at liberty to speak freely” (426) her “friendship was all that [Edmund] had to cling to (427). This conversation led, in part, to Edmund’s ceasing to “care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny, as Fanny herself could desire” (436). Fanny is arguably the most sensible woman throughout the novel, the other taking queues from Mrs. Norris: barely tolerable.

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