Monday, January 12, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 4

I love this chapter! That is, I love it almost as much as some later ones… It’s so romantic and wistfully sad; but most of all, I love it because a Certain Captain has now Officially Been Introduced. (That is…he hasn’t fully “arrived” yet, but there’s hope he soon will. :))

And here I think we really need a picture:


And (because we want everyone quite happy) here’s another…


Okay, so now that that’s handled, let’s concentrate.

It says Lady Russell received the engagement as a “most unfortunate” connection. “Anne Elliot, with all her claims of birth, beauty, and mind, to throw herself away at nineteen; involve herself at nineteen in an engagement with a young man, who had nothing but himself to recommend him, and no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain profession, and no connexions to secure even his farther rise in that profession; would be, indeed, a throwing away, which she grieved to think of! Anne Elliot, so young; known to so few, to be snatched off by a stranger without alliance or fortune; or rather sunk by him into a state of most wearing, anxious, youth-killing dependence! It must not be, if by any fair interference of friendship, any representations from one who had almost a mother's love, and mother’s rights, it would be prevented.”

And then about Wentworth’s personality: “Lady Russell saw it very differently.—His sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on her. She saw in it but an aggravation of the evil. It only added a dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong.—Lady Russell had little taste for wit; and of any thing approaching to imprudence a horror. She deprecated the connexion in every light.”


Reading it this time, Mansfield Park suddenly occurred to me. In MF (finished just two years before Persuasion), such advice and arguments as Lady Russell’s would (on a personal level) be most wise and applicable for Fanny’s mother near the beginning, as she defiantly chooses to marry the seagoing Mr. Price. Their life together turned out very much as Lady Russell envisions Anne’s potential marriage.

Yet even in Mansfield Park, the Price children are shown as scrambling up well into maturity… So over and over, it seems Austen reminds us that there is no surefire formula in life—but there is grace in hard situations, and there is such a thing as a life well lived. 

And along those lines, does anyone want to do a guest post on Anne?

Favorite lines/quotes:

“He was, at that time, a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit and brilliancy; and Anne an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling. —Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough…but the encounter of such lavish recommendations could not fail. They were gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love. It would be difficult to say which had seen highest perfection in the other, or which had been the happiest; she, in receiving his declarations and proposals, or he in having them accepted.” pg. 27

“…in this case, Anne had left nothing for advice to do…” pg. 30

“How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been,—how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! —She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older—the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.” pg. 31

“…the brother only with whom he had been residing, had received any information of their short-lived engagement. —That brother had been long removed from the country—and being a sensible man, and, moreover, a single man at the time, she had a fond dependence on no human creature’s having heard of it from him.” pg. 31

Possible discussion question/s:

~ How do you think Wentworth and Anne might have first become acquainted? Does it seem like the Elliots would have graced a general assembly ball with their presence? Or was the local curate actually on calling terms with Sir Walter?

~ Why do you think Sir Walter (while refusing to do anything for her), didn’t go all the way and withhold his consent to the engagement?


14 comments:

  1. Thank you! I am *quite* happy :-)

    So I think that what's good advice for one person is not for another. Anne, even at 19, would have been a very sensible person, clear-sighted, not blinded by appearances. Lady Russell's advice (don't marry someone with no certain income or prospects, don't marry someone you haven't known long, don't marry someone who isn't great at managing money) is fundamentally sound. What she fails to take into account is that Anne would surely have thought of those things herself, and come to the conclusion that the risk was worth taking. I think Lady Russell was rather treating Anne as though she were Mary or Elizabeth, someone who had trouble making sound decisions or reasoning well. This would have been great advice for either of them if they'd been proposed to by a mere naval commander with no command who might or might not be a fortune hunter. But it was all wrong for Anne.

    And you'll notice that nothing is mentioned of Lady Russell thinking Anne was too immature to get married, or to choose wisely -- she just believes that Anne deserves better. Lady Russell can't see Wentworth's worth, or she judges it inferior to Anne's worth, at least, and that's where her objections arise.

    As for Sir Walter, I think he considered Anne of so little consequence that if she wanted to marry some weatherbeaten naval officer, so be it. He wouldn't give her a settlement, to assure himself that this officer was no fortune hunter. I'd like to give Sir Walter the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to safeguard Anne with this, that if Wentworth had been a fortune hunter, he would have ended the engagement when he heard there was no fortune to be had, but really I think he just didn't care. He'd hoped for a better connection for the family through Anne, but if this was what she wanted, fine.

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    1. Hamlette,
      Oh, good!! ;)

      And about Lady Russell's advice....yes, exactly. (I'm trying not to give spoilers in the posts), but do you remember where Anne says near the end (and I'm going from memory): "It is perhaps, a situation where advice is good or bad only as the event decides." It's wisdom to discern what's right for a specific situation. Later, too, it says (and I'm paraphrasing again) that some people have a "quickness of perception---a natural penetration, in short, which no experience in others can equal. Lady Russell had been less blessed in this area than her young friend...." So it seems you're on to Austen's point. :)

      And it's very interesting how Lady Russell and Sir Walter's objections would then both stem from viewing him as below Anne/not near her worth (though in quite different directions---Lady Russell is concerned with who she is as a person and Sir Walter with worldly consequence).

      I think, too, he mightn't have given his absolute refusal simply because he's weak. When push-comes-to-shove, he doesn't really want to handle confrontation, especially with someone as clear-headed as Anne. And loss of money and consequence are his own greatest fears, and possibly his only threat recourse---since he has no real affection for her.

      And that does add an additional depth to their relationship, doesn't it?? (I mean---rather obviously), but right there we can see the reality of their love....if Wentworth was ready to take her with nothing. :)

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  2. Forgot to list other lines I marked!

    Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up. (Oh my goodness, poor Anne! Thinking Frederick Wentworth would be better of without her?)

    Okay, actually, you listed all my other favorite parts already :-)

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    1. Oh, I love that line! Anne....SO self-sacrificial! And not letting it sour her, but getting sweeter and more beautiful year by year. She's really one of my dearest and closest heroines. :) It's truly amazing....

      And kindred spirits! ;)

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    2. I'm starting to see that now in this reread, how she abandoned herself (throughout). She is always carrying the sick, the weak, and (eventually) the hurt ones, as if her sole purpose is to aid and support everyone else. She is the type of character that the reader hopes at some point will be rewarded for all of her self-sacrificing.

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    3. Ruth,
      She's just beautiful, isn't she??

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  3. FINALLY I get to learn more about Anne. She is a lovely character. Despite the fact that she regrets her decisions later, the fact that at nineteen she was able to give up a superb romance for practical and self-sacrificial reasons is very impressive.

    I suppose there must have been social functions that Sir Walter allowed his daughters to attend. He may have felt himself and his daughters above the crowd, but they had to socialize somehow.

    I also agree with Hamlette about question number two. Sir Walter would most likely have simply forgotten/cut off Anne had she decided to marry her love. He never seems too concerned with her. And sometimes a parents coldness towards a matter and obvious show of disappointment is even stronger and more heart breaking than out right refusal.

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    1. Dr. Sus,
      Yay!! :) And yes, it is quite impressive.... I don't know that I could have done it in her place.

      And about Sir Walter, I can definitely see it both ways. From a story perspective it makes a tremendous difference, though, that he didn't actually refuse his consent. If he had refused outright, then Anne would have been showing filial disobedience if she had chosen to maintain the engagement---whereas, as it stands, she takes the initiative, showing strength and sacrifice.

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  4. I'm still with you guys with my reading, even though I've been silent so far with my commenting!

    Well, Sir Walter is certainly the most developed character so far, although I love how Austen can give us such broad insight into her characters with a simple phrase.

    I haven't felt a connection with Ann yet. Sadly I can't get the A&E movie out of my head, and I really didn't like Amanda Root as Ann. Sigh! I must get her image out of there!

    It's been awhile since I've read an Austen and I am once again reminded of how fluid, descriptive and effective her writing is. Just wonderful!

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    1. Cleopatra,
      Oh, good! And I'm so glad you commented! ;)

      Oh, dear....I do hope you can identify with/picture her soon! :P And yes, isn't it truly amazing how Austen can describe so much in such few words??

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  5. I keep forgetting to come say this! I would love to do a character sketch of Anne for a guest post :-) When would you like it by?

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    1. Hamlette,
      Oh, great! I was hoping you would. ;) Chapter 10 is a good "Anne" chapter and scheduled for next Monday. Do you think you could have something by the end of this week and I could post it next Monday or Tuesday? If that's too soon it could really go up whenever you have it ready, though. And feel free to forward any particular screencaps you'd like. :)

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    2. Haha! And here I was being polite to see if anyone else would volunteer :-D Um, yes, I think I could have something for you by the weekend. Cowboy is off work today, so I might even take a little time this afternoon and see what I come up with.

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    3. Hamlette,
      Oh, good! And don't feel you have to rush---it can really go up anytime. ;)

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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!