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In Chapter 24 we see Fanny and William united for the first time, drawing some interesting commentary from the narrator on the nature and causes of happiness.

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In Chapter 24 Mary and Henry are discussing Fanny Price, when Henry turns to wondering why he is not making any progress with Fanny Price.

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Some of Austen’s critics have difficulty following her counterfactual reasoning, as when she speculates about how Henry Crawford would have got on if Fanny hadn’t formed an early attachment to Edmund.

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By the 23rd chapter (II.V) Fanny’s revulsion towards Henry Crawford becomes quite explicit, and this has been enormously controversial in 20th century criticism. Reginald Farrer in his 1917 essay called her a ‘prig-pharisee’ and professor Trilling in his 1957 essay on Emma agrees that many are ‘repelled’ by Fanny Price, that no essay he has written has met with so much resistance as the one on Mansfield Park where he ‘tried to say that it was not really a perverse and wicked book’. This trend looks as if it has carried over into the 21st century with one popular internet message board devoting a special section to guidelines on how to discuss Fanny Price without starting or prolonging flame wars:

Meanwhile, you should be careful about casually throwing around words such as the following in reference to Miss Price: “insignificant”, “moralizing prig”, “feeble”, “dull”, or “nebbish” – not because these are necessarily objectively wrong, but because on AUSTEN-L they are what the U.S. Supreme court has termed “fighting words”.

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Fanny’s conversation with Mary in the Grants’ shrubbery—the only casual conversation between the two rivals—resonates with contrasts. As Jane Stabler’s excellent notes remind us, Fanny’s stilted conversation reflects her discomfort in the presence of her worldly-wise rival that she has tried so hard to keep at a distance.

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The transposition of two passages in the chapter where Maria is married to Mr Rushworth had never struck me so forcibly before.

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It is easy to dismiss Mr Yeats, ‘trifling and confident, idle and expensive’ (20.21) and therefore his thoughts, so it is as well to pay close attention to them.

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