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Mrs. Norris

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Mrs. Norris (née Ward), also called Aunt Norris, is a character in Mansfield Park. She is the elder sister[1] of Lady Bertram and Mrs. Price. She married a respectable clergyman, Rev. Mr. Norris. She and her husband were situated at the parish at Mansfield due to the generosity of her brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Bertram[2]. After Mr. Norris died, Mrs. Norris moved to the White House, an estate close to Mansfield.

BiographyEdit

Early life and marriageEdit

Along with her sisters, Mrs. Norris grew up in Northampton. Her younger sister's marriage to a baronet greatly helped her own marriage prospects, and she wed a respectable clergyman who was set up in the parsonage of Mansfield. She was especially angered when she heard of her other sister's marriage to a man of no consequence, wealth, nor education. Frances did not even have the politeness to inform her family of her marriage. Mrs. Norris was incensed and wrote a very angry letter. Her sister was of much calmer temperament and would have been content to simply cut her sister out of her life[2].

Extension of the olive branchEdit

They did not hear from Frances Price for 11 long years, until she wrote to them asking for advice and help. This created needed peace between the sisters once again. Mrs. Norris came up with the idea of bringing their niece, nine year old Fanny Price to Mansfield. This idea was originally argued by Sir Thomas, who worried about his sons' approximation with a girl of no fortune. Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris managed to convince him, however[2].

Mrs. Norris did refuse to take the girl into her own parsonage, claiming that her husband was sickly and had poor nerves. This would force Fanny on her baronet uncle's generosity[2].

Death of husbandEdit

Mr. Norris died five years after the arrival of Fanny Price at Mansfield. After his death, Lady Bertram planned to send Fanny with her Aunt Norris as a companion[3]. She actually did not want Fanny with her because she was 15 and Norris herself was an "old, desolate widow" in an "unhappy state". As the parsonage passed to Dr. and Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Norris took possession of the White House, a home located near Mansfield[3]. She did not take Fanny with her at first[3].

As a widowEdit

After moving to the White House and being a widow, Mrs. Norris had nothing to do but move her considerable attentions and help to her nieces, namely Maria and Julia, both of whom were becoming society belles. She went into public with them, since Lady Bertram was not up for it[4]. Mrs. Norris favored her Bertram nieces over Fanny, and even argued with Edmund Bertram that Fanny should not have her own horse in the style of her wealthier cousins[4]. While the girls were in society, Mrs. Norris became obsessed with promoting a match between Maria and Mr. Rushworth. Finally, a tentative engagement was made between the two and a letter asking for consent was sent to Sir Thomas Bertram, who was still abroad in the West Indies.

When Fanny was eighteen, new people moved into the village: Mr. and Miss Crawford, the younger half-brother and sister of Mrs. Grant[4]. Mrs. Norris immediately took a liking to the Crawfords, as both were fashionable and wealthy, even if Mr. Crawford was not that attractive.

Character traitsEdit

Mrs. Norris is far more concerned with rank and status than her sister, Lady Bertram. She doesn't view Fanny Price with same respect and care she reserves for her Bertram nieces, Maria, and Julia. She is generally dismissive of Fanny especially, and is very callous about Fanny's health and well-being—much to Edmund's intense annoyance and displeasure. However, one cannot fault Mrs. Norris for everything to do with Fanny, as if she hadn't championed the girl so much when she was 10, Fanny would never have been invited to Mansfield.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 When the sisters were unmarried, she was addressed as "Miss Ward" while her sisters were "Miss Maria" and "Miss Frances", which shows she was the eldest
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mansfield Park, Chapter 1
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Chapter 3
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Chapter 4

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