Time is almost up for reply entries for the third letter in Miss Elizabeth Bennet's Period Drama Advice Event and I am just slipping in an entry on time. This week has been so busy but inspiration for a reply struck me today so I scribbled something which I hope will be enjoyable.
This time Miss Amy Dorrit of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit has asked advice:
Dear Period Drama Advice Column,I received a proposal from a dear friend of mine, John Chivery. I refused him because I do not love him. I am very fond of John, but I could never feel that way about him. I wish I could; it distresses me to see him unhappy, but I can't love him -- not in that way, not to be his wife. I would rather stay and look after my father than marry someone I do not love. I hope he will find a good wife one day because he deserves one. I am in love with another man, Arthur Clennam, but he is in love with someone else who I don't know. And now because I refused John, everybody is unhappy or angry with me. What should I do?
Having often been stuck by the similarities between Amy's story and that of Fanny Price from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park I couldn't resist writing a reply from that sweet young lady:
Dear Miss Dorrit,
Please excuse me taking the liberty of writing you but your predicament touched my heart for in many respects it seems similar to what my own situation was a few years ago.
Like you I received a proposal of marriage from a gentleman who I could not love. But unlike Mr. Chivery the gentleman who proposed to me, Mr. Crawford by name, was someone I could not think well of and I knew his attentions were all nonsense. My family was also unhappy and angry with me for refusing an offer which to them seemed so agreeable. But they were not in possession of all the facts, they did not consider that even though a gentleman may have all the perfections in the world, it should not to be set down as certain that he must be acceptable to every woman he may happen to like himself. I tried to explain my convictions that were we to marry I could never make him happy and would be miserable myself, but they did not understand and instead encourage his attentions. My uncle even enlisted my dear cousin Edmund to speak to me about accepting Mr. Crawford. I would usually be pleased to do anything Edmund asked, for I love him better than anyone in the world except my brother William, but I could never do that.
Like you I was in love with another man, dearest Edmund, but he was beginning to fall in love with Mr. Crawford’s sister and was deceived in her - he gave her merits which she had not. My heart was breaking and everyone seemed so displeased with me but I had to stick to what I knew was right. Later my family learned Mr. Crawford’s true nature and I was able to help them in their time of need. My very dear Edmund also learned of Miss Crawford’s duplicitous nature and I am now his wife, blessed to serve alongside him as he ministers to the Parish here.
I encourage you Miss Dorrit to stay true to your own conscience and do what is right even though your family are unhappy with you now. You have a better guide in yourself, if you keep attending to it, than any other person could be to you. Your attentiveness to your father does you a credit - nothing can equal a daughter’s care. You should not marry a man you do not love, and if the man you do love does not love you the best thing you can do is to fervently pray for his happiness. Entrust Mr. Clennam and your affection for him to the good Lord who sees the hearts of all people and orders things to the good of those who trust him.
I earnestly hope that these few words will be an encouragement to you to not lose heart.
Mrs. Fanny Bertram (nee Price)
Mansfield Parsonage, Northampton
Have you ever noticed the similarities in Amy Dorrit and Fanny Price?
Are there any other similarities you can think of?