Edmund Bertram

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Edmund Bertram
Blake Ritson starring as Edmund Bertram in the 2007 television drama, Mansfield Park by ITV
Blake Ritson starring as Edmund Bertram in the 2007 television drama, Mansfield Park by ITV
Gender Male
Age 25
Occupation Clergyman
Income £700 per annum after becoming a clergyman
Rank the second son of an English baronet
Primary residence Mansfield Park mansion; after ordination, Thornton Lacey parsonage
Family
Romantic interest(s) Miss Mary Crawford, Fanny Price
Parents Lady Maria Ward Bertram and Sir Thomas Bertram
Sibling(s) Maria Bertram, Julia, and Thomas Bertram

Edmund Bertram is a lead character in Jane Austen's 1814 novel Mansfield Park. He is Sir Thomas's second son and plans to be ordained as a clergyman.

Character[edit]

Edmund is a naturally kind and compassionate person, as demonstrated by his conduct toward Fanny Price, an impoverished cousin who has come to live with Edmund's family from her impoverished home and family in Portsmouth. Edmund's kindness and generosity to Fanny distinguish him from the rest of his family, who tend to exploit Fanny's good nature or mock her for her less privileged upbringing. For instance, Edmund's brother Tom teases Fanny, his sisters, Maria and Julia, condescend to give Fanny toys of the least value to them, and their aunt Norris refuses to allow a fire to be lit in Fanny's room. However, Edmund remains friendly and encouraging to Fanny and she gradually falls in love with him as she grows up.

Adult life[edit]

Edmund wishes to become a clergyman, for he is a second son, without prospect of inheriting a large fortune. Edmund was to be given the living of the local parish when his uncle died. This plan is foiled, however, when his dissolute elder brother, Thomas Bertram, accumulates debts due to extravagance and gambling, leading his father to sell the living to Dr. Grant to get money to pay off Tom's debts. All that remains is a smaller, poorer parish, which Edmund is promised. Mr. Grant and his wife move into the living, and are soon joined by Mrs. Grant's young half-brother and sister, Henry and Mary Crawford. Shortly afterwards, Edmund's father and his brother Tom have to travel to the family's estates in Antigua to settle some problems with the estate. Sir Thomas places Edmund in charge of the English household in his absence.

Henry and Mary Crawford prove to be a disruptive influence; they are both wealthy and attractive and both the Bertram sisters become infatuated with Henry, while Edmund falls in love with Mary, even neglecting Fanny sometimes in his attempts to please Mary.

Tom Bertram returns from Antigua before his father but Edmund still seems to be in charge of the estate while Tom amuses himself visiting people and taking part in horse races. When Tom comes up with the plan of putting on a play, Lovers' Vows at Mansfield Park, both Edmund and Fanny are opposed. Eventually, Edmund is persuaded that bringing in a person from another family would be worse than his participating in a rather suggestive scene with Mary as Anhalt to her Amelia. Sir Thomas returns just before the play is due to be staged and is greatly displeased. Edmund admits his culpability and emphasises Fanny's constant opposition to the play.

Edmund with Mary[edit]

Edmund is infatuated with the beautiful and talented Mary Crawford. He tells Fanny of his love, which affects her as she is in love with Edmund. At one point, Edmund even declares to Fanny that Mary is the only lady in the world whom he can think of as a wife. However, Edmund is also greatly upset when he discovers that Mary is opposed to him becoming a clergyman. Mary suggests to Edmund other possible professions. At a ball, Mary informs Edmund that they will never dance again, as she is soon to go away for a time and when she comes back, he will be ordained a clergyman and she never dances with clergymen. When Tom becomes dangerously ill, she rather callously hopes that Edmund will inherit the baronetcy and estate if his brother dies.

Meanwhile, Mary's brother Henry proposes to Fanny, who declines, both because she thinks him improper, and because she is in love with Edmund. Sir Thomas is infuriated at Fanny's "stupidity" and accuses her of being ungrateful, although he does not know Fanny's reasons for rejecting Henry. Sir Thomas decides to send Fanny for a prolonged visit to her family's home in Portsmouth, so that she can better appreciate the benefits of a marriage to Henry when contrasted with the poverty into which she was born. Fanny then leaves for Portsmouth while Edmund goes to Peterborough to visit an old acquaintance and become ordained.

In London, Henry Crawford encounters Edmund's sister Maria, who is now married to the wealthy but stupid Mr Rushworth. They run away together, bringing disgrace and embarrassment to the Bertrams. Edmund, visiting Mary, is affronted by her response to Henry's and Maria's "folly": rather than evincing moral disapproval, she feels that they have simply made imprudent decisions that led to their being caught, and that Maria ought to continue living with Henry in order to persuade him to marry her, and thus save their social standing. Edmund is disgusted by Mary's lack of moral outrage and concern for social standing, tells her so, and leaves, thus ending their attachment.

Edmund tells Fanny about his disillusionment with Mary's character and she comforts him. Edmund is extremely grieved by what has occurred, but he eventually recovers and realizes that he loves Fanny, and that she is morally appropriate for him. Sir Thomas gives his approval, and they marry. Edmund is given the parsonage at the nearby village of Thornton Lacey, and he and Fanny move there. Dr and Mrs. Grant soon move to a position in London, leaving the Mansfield parish available for Edmund and Fanny.

Portrayals[edit]

See also[edit]