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by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park Chapter 23 Summary
The Bertrams and Aunt Norris are confused as to why the Grants would invite Fanny for dinner. Fanny offers to not go but Edmund won't hear of it and keeps arguing the point. Lady Bertram finally asks Sir Thomas about it and he says that it's fine for Fanny to go and he's glad she was invited. Fanny is happy to go to dinner but is worried about having a front row seat at the Edmund and Mary show yet again. Fanny has no one to help her get dressed for dinner and she isn't really sure what she should wear. Mrs. Norris isn't thrilled about Fanny going, and so proceeds to make a lot of rude comments about Fanny's low social station. She's then upset that Fanny will be riding to the Grant's in a carriage when she can totally walk. Sir Thomas is equally upset at the suggestion that Fanny walk and says she can have a carriage. Fanny decides to put on the dress she wore for Maria's wedding. Edmund says it's pretty – excellent! – and that it reminds him of a dress Mary has – boo! Fanny feels like banging her head against a wall at this point. They arrive at the Grants' house and discover that Henry is back in town. Fanny is actually glad because, with more people at dinner, it'll be easier for her to sit back and not say anything. Henry starts chatting about the Rushworths and recalls all the fun times in the Theater Club. He says it was the best time he's ever had, and Fanny disapproves. Henry says it's too bad that Sir Thomas crashed the party and Fanny finally pipes up and says that she's glad he showed up when he did. Henry pauses, as if he hadn't really seen or understood Fanny before, and he quickly backpedals and agrees with her. Interesting. Mary and Henry start talking and note that Dr. Grant and Edmund are chatting. Henry jokes that they're probably discussing clergyman matters and Mary tries to laugh off her discomfort with the idea. Henry jokes about attending Edmund's first sermon to offer moral support to the beginner and Fanny is upset that Henry isn't taking sermons seriously. Mary continues to think about Edmund actually taking orders and is unhappy that she wasn't able to influence him to do something else. She decides that she needs to get over Edmund.
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