Monday, January 26, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 10

Another chapter I LOVE and have so been looking forward to! Tingly, thrilling, and always a surprise. ;)

In his book on Austen, Miniatures and Morals, Peter Leithart points out—that with its older heroine, a long past romance, and a changing social system—there is an autumnal quality to Persuasion. He says, “It is no accident that the first half of the novel is set in autumn, in dusky November. The question is, Will spring ever come?” 

Nowhere does that autumnal quality come out more than in this chapter—with its nuts in the hedgerow, the fineness of the day, and the listening and passed by Anne under the holly bush. 

It ends with the Crofts, probably Austen’s heartiest and strongest portrayal of mature conjugal felicity, and a true picture of help and respect in marriage: “—My dear admiral, that post!—we shall certainly take that post.” But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself, they happily passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her hand, they neither fell into a rut, nor ran foul of a dung-cart; and Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found herself safely deposited by them at the cottage.”

Due to circumstances, it will be a while before Anne is in a situation to do the same—but with quiet strength of character and clarity of mind and purpose on her side, there is strong hope of it.

Favorite lines/quotes:

“…while she considered Louisa to be rather the favourite, she could not but think, as far as she might dare to judge from memory and experience, that Captain Wentworth was not in love with either.” pg. 82

“Anne longed for the power of representing to them all what they were about, and of pointing out some of the evils they were exposing themselves to. She did not attribute guile to any. It was the highest satisfaction to her, to believe Captain Wentworth not in the least aware of the pain he was occasioning. There was no triumph, no pitiful triumph in his manner.” pg. 82

“…after another half mile of gradual ascent through large enclosures, where the ploughs at work, and the fresh-made path spoke the farmer, counteracting the sweets of poetical despondence, and meaning to have spring again, they gained the summit of the most considerable hill, which parted Uppercross and Winthrop…” pg. 85

“Here is a nut,” said he, catching one down from an upper bough. “To exemplify,—a beautiful glossy nut, which, blessed with original strength, has outlived all the storms of autumn. Not a puncture, not a weak spot any where.—This nut,” he continued, with playful solemnity,—“while so many of its brethren have fallen and been trodden under foot, is still in possession of all the happiness that a hazel-nut can be supposed capable of.” pg. 88

“The listener’s proverbial fate was not absolutely hers; she had heard no evil of herself,—but she had heard a great deal of very painful import.” pg. 89 

“…Mary was either offended, by not being asked before any of the others, or what Louisa called the Elliot pride could not endure to make a third in a one horse chaise.” pg. 90

(And—I know this is long—but all of it is most absolutely necessary): “The walking-party had crossed the lane, and were surmounting an opposite stile; and the admiral was putting his horse into motion again, when Captain Wentworth cleared the hedge in a moment to say something to his sister.—The something might be guessed by its effects. “Miss Elliot, I am sure you are tired,” cried Mrs. Croft. “Do let us have the pleasure of taking you home. Here is excellent room for three, I assure you. If we were all like you, I believe we might sit four.—You must, indeed, you must.”

“Anne was still in the lane; and though instinctively beginning to decline, she was not allowed to proceed. The admiral’s kind urgency came in support of his wife’s; they would not be refused; they compressed themselves into the smallest possible space to leave her a corner, and Captain Wentworth, without saying a word, turned to her, and quietly obliged her to be assisted into the carriage.

“Yes,—he had done it. She was in the carriage, and felt that he had placed her there, that his will and his hands had done it, that she owed it to his perception of her fatigue, and his resolution to give her rest. She was very much affected by the view of his disposition towards her which all these things made apparent. This little circumstance seemed the completion of all that had gone before. She understood him. He could not forgive her,—but he could not be unfeeling. Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjust resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief. It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impulse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.” pg. 90-91

Possible discussion question/s:

~ Captain Wentworth says, “My first wish for all, whom I am interested in, is that they should be firm. If Louisa Musgrove would be beautiful and happy in her November of life, she will cherish all her present powers of mind.”

Yet Louisa, in forcing her sister to continue on to Winthrop (while doing her a service in one sense, because Henrietta had been resolved on it beforehand) was also behaving a bit like Lady Russell (except that she didn’t even have a quasi-mother’s position/authority). So is Wentworth distinguishing yet between a mature strength of mind, that knows wise compliance, and a strength that overrides, managing others? 

~ What did you think of the ending scene?


  1. This was a lovely chapter, and you are right - it truly captures the spirit of autumn in the best possible way. My favorite line:

    "As soon as she could, she went after Mary, and having found, and walked back with her to their former station, by the stile, felt some comfort in their whole party being immediately afterwards collected, and once more in motion together. Her spirits wanted the solitude and silence which only numbers could give."

    As far as the questions go, I believe he is testing the waters here. He seems to want to understand the Musgrove girl's character a bit better before he comes to a decision about which one to fall in love with.

    And the ending... OH THE ENDING! Captain Wentworth is the master of tiny but oh so romantic gestures. I believe this is the most subtly romantic of all Austen's books. The way he cares about Anne's situation in the conversation with Louisa, followed by the way he is so sensitive to Anne's suffering, why it is just too sweet. Too sweet I say! Wentworth is definitely the gentlest and most sensitive of the Austen heroes.

    1. Susanna,
      Isn't it? And I like that favorite line of yours, too.... "Her spirits wanted the solitude and silence which only numbers could give." It doesn't happen to me often ;P, but it has occasionally and I think it's a totally apt description.

      And oh my, isn't the ending scrumptious??? :) CW's....yes, well I won't try to describe him. ;) You're exactly right!

  2. On the ending: I especially starred the passage where Anne admits to herself that she had hurt Wentworth...but...."he could not be unfeeling." There was a glimmer of hope,"...he could not see her suffer..." It seems that at this point, all she is hoping for is a possible pardon and a small friendship from Wentworth.

    1. Ruth,
      Your mention of "a small friendship with Wentworth," would then underline very neatly the various themes of general friendship running through the story as a whole! Good point!

  3. When Wentworth made sure that Anne would not fatigue herself and handed her into the carriage, she seemed thrilled at his concern for her. But I was wondering if he had another motive and wanted to rid himself of her presence during the walk. Just a thought but his actions could be taken both ways.

    I love your comment about the autumnal quality of the novel so far, Heidi! It's so true.

    1. Oh, no!! Don't say that, Cleo. I want to believe that he couldn't hold back his still-careful feelings for her; and under the stress of the events that day, they came pouring out in concern for her fatigue. Ok, maybe that's too much, but, you know what I mean. : D

    2. Cleopatra,
      Hmmmm. I suppose he could. After his gentle concern in taking little Walter off her back in the previous chapter, though, it's probably pretty safe to assume he's concerned for her. ;)

      Also, I'm so glad you enjoyed the autumnal note! Thanks for mentioning it! :)

    3. :-) Am I not in a romantic enough mood for this read? I agree that Wentworth's actions were probably sincere since, as Heidi pointed out, he'd already rescued her once. And Austen didn't indicate in the text he wanted to rid himself of her company, so yes, it's safe to say his tender feelings are growing.

  4. Okay, did you notice that he cleared the hedge in a moment -- he hurried ahead around it (or jumped over it?!?) to make sure they would wait for Anne. He still harbors enough fondness for her to make a real effort on her part, clearly. I do like that so well.

    However, this chapter on a whole is one of my least favorites. If not my very least-favorite. I feel so badly for Anne here -- she's not just having to spend time with Wentworth, she's subjected to overhearing him basically discussing how she has altered his view of women and life in general. Oh, poor Anne.

    Also, it keeps reinforcing to me the fact that Wentworth believes that Lady Russell persuaded Anne to give him up, when really Lady Russell voiced her objections, and Anne persuaded herself that would be the best course.

    And I love the Crofts. I love their marriage, I love Anne seeing their driving habits as being indicative of their relationship -- it's great.

    Other parts I marked:

    Anne's object was, not to be in the way of anybody... (I love that because it reminds me of me. I spend a lot of time trying to avoid being in people's way. And I get annoyed with people who don't pay any attention to whether or not they're in someone's way.)

    "It is the worst evil of too yielding and indecisive a character, that no influence over it can be depended on." (So he's not adverse to someone having influence over someone else, he's just adverse to people who are influenced by everyone around them . He wants to be the only one with influence, with command.)

    For herself, she feared to move, lest she be seen. (Yes, this is literally true here. But I think it also is a good way of describing her behavior and mindset for the past few years. She has been doing a lot of staying out of the way, remaining behind while others go places, not speaking up, just staying in the shadows so no one will see her, no one will ask her to return affections she can't the way Charles Musgrove did, etc. I may be going out on a limb here, but that line struck me so strongly.)

    1. Hamlette,
      I. love. that. line!!!! There's just something about a hero who "clears the hedge in a moment." :) *Happy sigh.*

      Yes, I used to REALLY not like the under-the-hedge business at all either. Poor Anne seems like she's being painted so badly and, due to obvious circumstances, can't say a word in her own defense. But (at the risk of giving a slight spoiler :P), I've come to like it somewhat better ever since I figured out what he's really thinking (thanks to a certain later parenthetical comment). (Austen's so subtle and CW's so smart. *second happy sigh*) So now I get a bit more pleasure out of the rest of it--besides the marvelous ending. ;)

      About Anne fearing to move.....hmmmm. Quite possibly. I think, too, there's a bit of the imagery Austen used with Fanny Price in MP. She's not necessarily a gripping character (and definitely not sparkling), but she stays still. She can sit still, quietly holding her ground--secure in her own rectitude--while everyone else is circling and turning somersaults around her. That takes strength and maturity.

    2. Hamlette
      I didn't even pick up on that line but now you've pointed out that Wentworth made even more of a romantic effort for Anne than I thought I ♥ it to infinity! One thing that I did notice in this chapter is that Anne is the only one who realises that they're all wandering off to Winthrop. I thought that was kind of interesting. It shows how observant Anne is, especially since she's kind of agitated in this chapter whilst everyone else seems to be in a fairly good mood.

      I've been thinking about how Anne and Fanny Price are both very similar in that they're both introverted, observant, gentle and yet strong underneath. But I think Anne is a far more likeable and memorable character. I do think that much of the criticism that Fanny gets is unfair but Anne has a warmth and a wry sense of humour about her that Fanny lacks.

    3. Hannah,
      Yes, I think so, too! Anne and Fanny are very similar. While they're both definitely perfect characters in their own right and for their own stories, I think Austen also got better as a writer -- for instance, Anne having that gentle bit of wry humor. She's also older than Fanny, which I think Austen reflects well, and (though often restrained by circumstances) she's actually fairly decisive and unafraid of taking action.


Challenging questions and thoughts are most welcome! Please just keep all comments wholesome and God-honoring. Also, if someone else has left a comment you’d like to reply to/interact with—do feel free!