Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 11

Austen loved Lyme, and in this chapter we get her longest and most fluid narrative description of any setting or location in all of her work. 

We’re also introduced to a third set of people. We’ve met the vain and aristocratic Elliots—and the hearty Musgrove clan—and now we get to meet more of the naval 'family!' And what an absolute wonder and delight they are! With all their warm manners and closely knit ties, functioning off values entirely different, startling, fresh and contrasting!

With Anne’s conversation with Benwick, we also see more fully just how well read she is, and also a fascinating glimpse of what a truly good conversationalist and speaker she can be. Soliloquizing with herself later, she even shows a trace of Lizzy Bennet’s humor and amusement. So altogether a wonderful and deepening glimpse into our lovely heroine!

Favorite quotes/lines:

“…but she was yet more anxious for the possibility of Lady Russell and Captain Wentworth never meeting any where.” pg. 93

“…nothing could be more pleasant than their desire of considering the whole party as friends of their own, because the friends of Captain Wentworth, or more kindly hospitable than their entreaties for their all promising to dine with them.” pg. 97-98

“There was so much attachment to Captain Wentworth in all this, and such a bewitching charm in a degree of hospitality so uncommon, so unlike the usual style of give-and-take invitations, and dinners of formality and display, that Anne felt her spirits not likely to be benefited by an increasing acquaintance among his brother-officers.” pg. 98

“On quitting the Cobb, they all went indoors with their new friends, and found rooms so small as none but those who invite from the heart could think capable of accommodating so many.” pg. 98

“When the evening was over, Anne could not but be amused at the idea of her coming to Lyme, to preach patience and resignation to a young man whom she had never seen before; nor could she help fearing, on more serious reflection, that, like many other great moralists and preachers, she had been eloquent on a point in which her own conduct would ill bear examination.” pg. 101

Possible discussion question/s:

~ It’s been pointed out that the naval community represents an entirely different form of society—not based on “land” at all (land physically or as a running system of inheritance). So what are some personal qualities inherent in an individual (i.e. bravery, dedication, a value for hard work, etc.) that would shape their social system?


  1. Regarding the last quote, who better to preach patience and resignation and many other things on various points than the very people who have suffered through them or committed them themselves? My better sermons are usually on those things which are great personal failings of my own.

    Of course, we all know there are very unhelpful ways to do this, though.

    1. George,
      Good point! Having been through something personally gives a completely three-dimensional understanding to another person's situation. On the flipside (while enabling us to empathize with others), if we're approaching our own situation honestly at the same time, we'll often end up gaining greater insight into our own weaknesses or failures in that particular area. So it's a "both/and" scenario. (At least that's how I've noticed it works personally.)

      And yes, there are definitely helpful and unhelpful ways!

  2. Oh yay, I feel that Anne's character is finally being revealed to us more. She initiates conversation with Benwick and seems to take charge of the conversation. Go, Anne!

    1. Cleopatra,
      Oh, good -- I'm so glad! :)

  3. The whole discussion between Anne and Captain Benwick shows so nicely how an introvert can open up when talking to just one person instead of being in a big group, and when given a chance to discuss something they're passionate about. I love it! Austen says that Benwick, "though shy... did not seem reserved," which I think could also be said of Anne.

    Also, I got a kick out of how Anne and Benwick spent time discussing how Giaour should be pronounced, because I wondered that myself, lol.

    I feel like Austen was using the Crofts to sort of prepare us to be really positive toward the Harvilles and Benwick, and I love how open and intelligent they all are. When men are going to be at sea for months or years at a time, living in very close quarters with each other, it's going to be really important to be easy-going, tolerant, and easy to get along with, and that shows so much in Captains Wentworth, Harville, and Benwick, and also Admiral Croft. And such people would likely seek wives who are also even-tempered and open-hearted, which means altogether they're just awesome, and I'm not sure where I was going with this... forgive me, I have finally caught my kids' headcold and the Advil Cold & Sinus is getting to me, I think.

    I think the only other line I want to point out was a description of Anne: "the engaging mildness of her countenance, and gentleness of her manners" make her sound so sweet and kind, don't they?

    1. Hamlette,
      That literary conversation is one of the neatest things! (Barring the later Harville conversations. ;)) And that Giaour business is so funny.... One of those instances of the author knowing exactly what's going to go through the reader's mind and then playing right with it.

      Also, yes! I get what you mean about the wives. ;) And I agree about the Crofts. "Open and intelligent" is an excellent description for all of them.... "Camaraderie" is another word that springs to mind.

    2. Hamlette, I especially love your point about Anne's introversion in your first paragraph!

      Heidi, I don't really have a lot to say about this chapter but I was struck by JA's descriptions of Lyme. JA isn't exactly famed for her landscape descriptions but her descriptions of Lyme are quite lengthy by her standards and you can really see her affection for the place coming through.

    3. Hannah,
      Isn't that long description of Lyme striking? Along with this passage, I actually had another similar experience when I was reading Emma last summer. I can't remember what chapter it's in, but I think Emma and Harriet are in the carriage together and Austen starts describing the spring hedgerows. I was like, "Wait a minute, I know it's been a while since I've read this, but I don't remember Austen doing this at all!" So yes, very fun. :)

    4. Ah, okay! It definitely seems like her writing was moving into that kind of direction then... And nor the 343749456th time I'm mourning the fact that JA only wrote 6 novels. What would she have gone on to write if she hadn't died so young?!


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