Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Austen Villians: Mr. Crawford

The Austen Villains are any combination of adulterers, gold diggers, or just big fat liars. If we're talking lasting emotional and societal damage I'd say Crawford "wins", followed by Willoughby, then Wickham. Willoughby and Crawford might be tied. Anne as a Heroine didn't let Elliot get away with too terribly much, and Thorpe and Churchill ended up being rather harmless, all things considered. Keep in mind I'm looking at damages presented in the novels, not towards any other women I'm sure most of these fictitious men left pregnant and/or in the lurch. Miss Austen doesn't mess around. These were heavy dudes.

(in order)
Adulterers:        Gold Diggers:        Liars:
Willoughby       Willhoughby         Wickham
Crawford          Elliot                    Churchill
Wickham          Wickham             Willoughby
Elliot                Thorpe                 Thorpe

Henry Crawford
woof, he'll getcha. 
"Fanny seemed to herself never to have been shocked was too horrible a confusion of guilt, too gross a complication of evil, for human nature, not in a state of utter barbarism, to be capable of! His unsettled affections, wavering with his vanity, Maria's decided attachment, and no sufficient principle on either side." Chapter 42

Mr. Crawford is the Londoner that comes to Mansfield Park. Upon being introduced to the Bertram family he decides to pursue Julia, as she's available. This does not however prevent him from securing engaged Maria's affections as well. After Maria is married he decides to make Heroine Fanny Price fall in love with him, unaware that Fanny's affections have always belonged to her cousin, Edmund. Mr. Crawford falls in love with Fanny and proposes marriage to her. Fanny refuses Mr. Crawford not only because she's in love with Edmund, but because she doubts his constancy as he's not displayed the most virtuous of intentions towards Julia and Maria.

Fanny's refusal of Crawford gets her kicked out of Mansfield and sent to live with her family in Portsmouth. There Crawford visits and is the most lovely, considerate, and doting suitor. With Edmund head over heals for Mary Crawford, one wonders if Fanny should settle for Mr. Crawford. However, she does not waiver and upon visiting Maria in London, Crawford starts up with the married Maria and the two elope, leaving the family scandalized.  Maria is divorced for adultery. Crawford chooses not to marry her.
ok, he is pretty genuine for awhile.
Movie version (1999): During Crawford's visit to Portsmouth he guesses that Fanny loves Edmund and consoles her when it's apparent Edmund and Mary will marry. This is quite a lovely if not heartbreaking scene. Fanny agrees to marry Crawford but recants the next morning, leaving him heartbroken. This rejection is used as a catalyst for his involvement with Maria. In the film Maria comes home during Tom's illness and Fanny discovers Crawford and Maria having sex pretty much directly under her bedroom. Not cool.

What a list of offenses Mr. Crawford! Mary Crawford blames Fanny, saying had she given Mr. Crawford a chance he wouldn't have been tempted by Maria, that with Fanny's rejection the temptation of immediate satisfaction from Maria was too much for him.

I do believe Mr. Crawford was genuinely in love with Fanny. He'd never known a woman like her and was, I like to think, attracted to her morality and uprightness (the very qualities that kept them apart). He was an excellent suitor to Fanny and was always respectful, charming, attentive, and considerate. He did everything in his power to help her brother and didn't care that her family was an embarrassment (see first quote below).  However, I  highly doubt he would have been faithful to Fanny if they'd married. His weakness of character throughout the novel leads me to this conclusion. Despite how much I would like to believe, and do believe, that people can change with strong enough motives, I think Crawford is the type that wouldn't (see second quote). I don't think Fanny would have satisfied him in the end.

As I reread Crawford, and given the movie portrayal by Alessandro Nivola, I would most definitely have fallen for him had Edmund not been in the way. He was SO genuine and charming and lovely for that short while in Plymouth, and I love to believe that people can change. Despite myself I know I would have eaten that stuff up.

He's the second adulterer bc he didn't get anyone involved pregnant. He was never really a gold digger, so you have to give him that. He's the last on the list of liars bc while he was a player, he was the most genuine of the liars. Here I might be rationalizing a tad. You might ask, "But Willoughby is the first adulterer and gold digger, why isn't he the worst?". To that I say Crawford's actions during the novel make him the stand out. Willoughby's greatest offense was technically committed before the novel and was with someone we were never properly introduced to. His offense against Marianne doesn't compare to Crawford professing mad love to Fanny then sleeping with her cousin. More to come in Willoughby's entry obviously.

Quotey quotes:

"She turned away, and wished he would not say such things. She was willing to allow he might have more good qualities than she had been wont to suppose. She began to feel the possibility of his turning out well at last." Chapter 41

"As to Mr. Crawford, she hoped it might give him a knowledge of his own disposition, convince him that he was not capable of being steadily attached to any one woman in the world, and shame him from persisting any longer in addressing herself...She had begun to think he really loved her; and to fancy his affection for her something more than common." Chapter 42

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