Study Guide

Mansfield Park Chapter 18

By Jane Austen

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Chapter 18

  • Everyone is now super busy with the Theater Club.
  • Tom's hired scene-painter arrives and Edmund gets increasingly annoyed by how overblown this production is getting.
  • Fanny is stuck listening to everyone complain to her about everyone else. She's also forced to read through lines with everyone.
  • The behind-the-scenes drama is intense. Henry and Maria rehearse together all the time, mainly their love scenes.
  • Mr. Rushworth is increasingly jealous and, to make matters worse, he's also a terrible actor. Fanny starts trying to help him learn all his lines since she feels sorry for him.
  • Mrs. Norris is sewing the costumes and makes Fanny help her.
  • Fanny is increasingly anxious about the love scene between Edmund and Mary's characters, which has yet to be rehearsed.
  • The next day Fanny is in her room when Mary comes up to see her.
  • Mary wants Fanny to read through the love scene with her since she's nervous about reading it with Edmund.
  • Fanny is horrified but agrees to do it.
  • Before they start, Mary gossips a bit and sarcastically observes that Maria and Henry should be amazing since they rehearse so much together. She also notes that Sir Thomas wouldn't be so thrilled to see what they've done to his house.
  • The girls start reading but then Edmund interrupts.
  • He had the same idea as Mary and wanted Fanny to rehearse with him.
  • The two then decide to rehearse together with Fanny as their prompter. Fanny would rather be run over by a cart than have to watch this, but she agrees.
  • Fanny perhaps needs to learn the art of the white lie – it would get her out of a lot of these situations. Or she should start telling people to just go away.
  • Fanny's emotional torture session ends when the two thespians notice she's tired and they decide to leave.
  • A full rehearsal is set for that evening and everyone's in a great mood.
  • The Theater Club was waiting for the Crawfords and the Grants to come over.
  • They finally show up, but without Mrs. Grant. Mary informs them, mockingly, that Dr. Grant is "sick" since he didn't enjoy his dinner and Mrs. Grant is basically baby-sitting him.
  • The others insist that Fanny read Mrs. Grant's part so they can rehearse and Fanny reluctantly agrees.
  • But then Julia rushes in and calls a halt to the rehearsal: Sir Thomas has returned!

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