Since it is indeed Valentine’s Day, Miss Smith and Miss Warburton asked me if i would care to explain why I have a small place in my Janeite heart for Mr Edmund Bertram, as they think it nonsensical and absurd.Well, they shall soon see…
Some people think that Edmund is blind, ridiculous and well, an idiot. In a recent Janeite survey (i do like surveys for Jane things :-D), it was proven that Edmund was the least favourite hero, and Mr Henry Crawford was preferred as the main role (come on girls, we all like a blaggard). Although i may agree in some parts, I do feel that
Edmund Bertram/ Blake Ritson
Edmund does not receive worthy credit by Austen readers. Mansfield Park: my first Austen novel, yes, it was not Pride and Prejudice like most Janeites. This is partly why i feel a duty towards the characters of this novel, as i have grown up with them since my early Jane worshipping years. This may shock Miss Smith and Miss Warburton since they know of my hatred toward spine-creasers (yes, they are a race of horrible and scary people), but my copy of Mansfield Park is my only book which has quite a lot of creases down its lovely creamy spine of janeness. Shocking indeed! Thus showing my love for this novel, and how no matter how much i read it, Edmund and Fanny will always be my third favourite couple (Darcy and Wentworth come first).
In Mansfield Park we watch Edmund mostly through Fanny’s eyes and we know she can’t be objective. What is puzzling is that we get very limited details about Edmund’s relationship with the woman he eventually marries- he acts like an affectionate older brother to Fanny until the very end of the book, where the narrator gives us a brief account about how he fell in love with Fanny. We know a lot about Fanny’s love for Edmund, but we don’t get much of the reverse at all. Perhaps if we could see more of Edmund’s insight, then we may notice the love for Fanny which has always been there in the heart of the novel. Even Edmund’s relationship with Mary, a much more sizeable chunk of the book, is very lacking in details. We see them together almost exclusively through Fanny’s eyes, or else hear about them briefly from the narrator: “They had talked – and they had been silent – he had reasoned – she had ridiculed – and they had parted at last with mutual vexation”
At times it seems that we get more interaction between Fanny and Edmund not just because the book is Fanny’s story but also because that’s the story that Edmund “ought to be” participating in. What complicates this further is that Edmund’s romance with Mary doesn’t seem like a mistake. They both seem to genuinely love each other but, in the end, their relationship comes to a very messy end. This is, in my opinion, what makes the readers view on Edmund so complicated. The fact that we don’t witness a great deal of Edmund’s true feelings, makes it quite difficult to grasp the idea of him suddenly realising his love for Fanny.
Anyhow, we can say he is a romantic hero, at least, in Fanny’s eyes (and mine). He seems to live two parallel lives: one in the reality of facts in his turbulent relationship with Mary, the other one in Fanny’s mind and heart, where he is irreprehensible, affectionate, sensitive.
Well, that is all i can think of at this very moment in time. My soft spot for Edmund can change over different courses; one day i could ramble off many reasons why he is a favourite hero, other days i would just say that i don’t know why, but i just do. There you have it, my Edmund explanation; although, i do like to make fun of him sometimes. For example…
Myself, Miss Smith and Miss Warburton agree that this is Edmund's 'rapey vicar' face. It is indeed extremely creepy but amusing :)
Happy Valentine’s Day,
Miss Wareham x