Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 5

I love the introduction of the Crofts! Including Sir Walter’s following comment on the arranging of the Admiral’s hair and then the Admiral’s to Mrs. Croft about Sir Walter never setting the Thames on fire, but there being no harm in him. “…reciprocal compliments, which would have been esteemed about equal.” 

Regarding Mrs. Clay, Sir Walter marrying again and having a son would keep the estate in the immediate family (providing for his other daughters), which is a material consideration. Though Anne definitely does not like Mrs. Clay, it seems her primary concern here is for Elizabeth’s future peace and comfort.

And with Anne’s removal to Uppercross, we are introduced to the delights of Mary’s flights of thought! I end up smiling every time during the dialogue in their first sister-scene at Uppercross Cottage: with Mary ill on the sofa and then, by Anne’s perseverant patience and cheerfulness, soon up and ready for a walk.

Also, with the description of the Musgroves we see something new. In Persuasion—with the long-landed gentry in monetary straits and the rise of the navy—there is a feel of general, stirring transformation, butas is brought out in the description of the Musgrovesthere seem to be additional influences at work as well. England is changing.

Favorite lines/quotes:

“I cannot possibly do without Anne,” was Mary’s reasoning; and Elizabeth’s reply was, “Then I am sure Anne had better stay, for nobody will want her in Bath.” To be claimed as a good, though in an improper style, is at least better than being rejected as no good at all; and Anne, glad to be thought of some use, glad to have any thing marked out as a duty, and certainly not sorry to have the scene of it in the country, and her own dear country, readily agreed to stay.” pg. 34

“The Musgroves, like their houses, were in a state of alteration; perhaps of improvement.” pg. 41

(On Henrietta and Louisa): “Anne always contemplated them as some of the happiest creatures of her acquaintance; but still, saved as we all are by some comfortable feeling of superiority from wishing for the possibility of exchange, she would not have given up her own more elegant and cultivated mind for all their enjoyments; and envied them nothing but that seemingly perfect good understanding and agreement together, that good-humoured mutual affection, of which she had known so little herself with either of her sisters.” pg. 42

Possible discussion question/s: 

~ What do you think of Mary so far? And of Anne’s quiet management?


  1. Mary is an exaggerated, vulnerable, needy victim. If Anne weren't so responsible and mature, I'd call her an enabler; but I cannot resort to such titles. Her quiet management is a result of her having to be independent and accommodating in order to survive under a father who indulged in his favored daughters and his own private whims.

    1. Ruth,
      Hmmmm.... Interesting. I don't know that Mary's a victim. We each have the responsibility to make our own decisions and live with the consequences---and her circumstances are quite good. I think her problem is more pride and ingratitude/unthankfulness than anything else (as with her father).

      And as far as Anne assisting her goes.... We mustn't let certain needy people walk all over us, but there are certain people (perhaps, in some cases, family members) whom it is our duty to help. It has to be done wisely, but they do have a claim on us. And I think Anne resembles her mother in this.

    2. I wouldn't call Mary a victim either. I would call her "needy." She wants attention, and when she doesn't get as much as she wants, she creates a reason for people to pay attention to her. The problem, of course, is that everyone is so used to her crying wolf this way that they don't pay attention to her anymore even when she is "ill."

    3. I should have put quotation marks around victim b/c I used it sarcastically. She's not a victim of anything but her own made-up crises, which is what you just said, Hamlette. I misused the word.

      And I definitely agree that Anne is playing the part of her mother. Her nature is to be motherly, and she is the only one capable of patience in dealing with Mary's ways.

    4. Ruth,
      Oh, okay....good to know. :) I was slightly worried you wouldn't be enjoying having Mary along for the rest of the book! ;)

    5. OK, not to keep hashing it out, but I realize my words were harsh towards Mary; you are right - she is comical. I took it too seriously when Austen meant it to demonstrate Anne's beautiful character. Thanks!

    6. Ruth,
      Oh, no problem....and you're welcome! ;)

  2. Oh, Mary. How she makes me laugh! And mostly because I know people just like her. Or, have known, anyway. They lurch from one "catastrophe" to another, a new disaster striking just when people stopped consoling them for the last one. In real life, they are exasperating and wearisome, but in fiction, hilarious.

    I was particularly struck, this reading, with Austen's wording here: "A little further perseverance in patience and forced cheerfulness on Anne's side produced nearly a cure on Mary's." Forced cheerfulness! Anne was genuinely patient here, but she had to force herself to be cheerful. Interesting.

    Another line I marked:

    "There is hardly any personal defect," replied Anne, "which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to." Do you think she's thinking of herself here too? She knows she's not very pretty anymore, but she's very agreeable, so I think maybe Anne hopes her attitude makes up for her appearance.

    1. Hamlette,
      Isn't she hilarious? The way she can fly from one thing to the next.... So funny. And that's interesting about Anne's comment on an agreeable manner, too. I hadn't thought of it before. It's definitely another instance of her clear sight about the world around her---and I think a hopeful one!

      And oh, yes....about the forced cheerfulness. That's one I have to work on personally. I think---because it does tend to frustrate me, on a daily level, when things aren't very straightforward and "out in the open"---I feel like I'm 'faking' it, in essence---to act differently than I feel at any given time. But that's really just an excuse. Sometimes we simply need to put on a cheerful countenance and live it out.

    2. I do know that if you smile, even if you're grumpy or cross or tired or whatever, you will actually feel a little better. And if you hug someone for more than 3 or 4 seconds, you both get a little jolt of the "happiness hormone." So I've tried both of those methods of "forced cheerfulness" on bad days -- smiling at one of my kids even though I just want to growl at them to leave me alone, or hugging one of them for a bit extra long. Pretending to be cheerful can actually make you a bit more so, and obviously Anne has figured that out.

  3. Two things I noticed about this chapter:

    ~ Anne is so cheerful! A lot of her sentences end with exclaimation marks and she's filled with optimism. That's what I don't really like about the movie, Heidi, the Anne Elliot there is kind, but also always rather glum. Anne in the book is really cheerful, and almost loud,( in a ladylike way.)

    ~ I loooove the description of the Great House at the end- and that Musgrove family atmosphere.

    "To the Great House accordingly they went, to sit the full half hour in the old-fashioned square parlour, with a small carpet and shining floor, to which the present daughters of the house were gradually giving the proper air of confusion by a grand piano-forte and a harp, flower-stands and little tables placed in every direction. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness! The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment."

    I love that.

    ~ I think Mary's a big annoyance, but she makes me laugh, so I'm glad to have her in the book. :-)

    ~ Naomi

    1. Naomi,
      She is very cheerful! And I agree that her cheerfulness in the movie is quite subtle. Before seeing the '07, I'd already read (and loved) the book and seen the '95 film as well. So would I have liked it just the same if I hadn't? I don't know.... I hadn't really thought about it. :)

      And oh, I just love the Musgroves! So kind and comfortable! Yes, Mary can be super annoying, but she's so funny I can forgive her for it. ;)

      And on a sidenote, your new profile picture is lovely! Do you know where/what it's from?

    2. Heidi, I know! I thought the picture was very sweet. It's from a movie called 'Tuck Everlasting.' I haven't a clue what it's about, so I can't recommend it or anything. :-)

  4. I loved this chapter. It seemed the epitome of English society of that time. All the social rules and insults hidden in perfect politeness. It was fun to watch Anne and Mary intereact. As unruly and exaggerated as Mary is, I feel like I can see bits of her in a few people I know and even (I humbly must add) in myself. She is, in all her overdoneness, not at all unrealistic.

    Favorite quotes:

    "Each lady was previously well disposed for an agreement, and saw nothing, therefore, but good manners in the other; and with regard to the gentlemen, there was such an hearty good humour, such an open, trusting liberality on the Admiral's side, as could not but influence Sir Walter, who had besides been flattered into his very best and most polished behaviour by Mr Shepherd's assurances of his being known, by report, to the Admiral, as a model of good breeding."

    "To be claimed as a good, though in an improper style, is at least better than being rejected as no good at all; and Anne, glad to be thought of some use, glad to have anything marked out as a duty, and certainly not sorry to have the scene of it in the country, and her own dear country, readily agreed to stay."

    1. Dr. Sus,
      It is an excellent example of the English society of the day! And several different sections of it (what with Admiral and Mrs. Croft, the Elliots, and the Musgroves).

      Yes, I don't think Mary's unrealistic either. Exaggerated---maybe---a bit, but not at all unrealistic. In fact, I think Austen must have had fun with her. ;)

      And ah, yes---that first quote you put in is another favorite!!

  5. How ironic that Anne says " I found it most right, and most wise, and therefore, must involve the least suffering, to go with the others." She was persuaded by her family to make the "most right, and most wise" decision of not marrying Captain Wenthworth, but she suffered a great deal, did she not?

    As for the dynamics among the sisters, well, it reminded me of Cinderella and her evil sisters.
    Mary entreats? - requires- Anne's presence: " I cannot possibly do w/o Anne." " Dear me, what can you possibly have to do?" " But you have never asked me one word about our dinner at the Pooles yesterday."

    Liz: "Then I am sure Anne had better stay, for nobody will want her in Bath."

    And to all these belittling comments, Anne seems so dutiful like Cinderella and agrees to stay.

    I have questions: Who are the Musgroves?
    What does ' The baronet will never set the Thames on fire' mean?
    What does ' ...if his own man might have had the arranging of his hair...' mean?

    1. Kim,
      Good point! We shall have to see how all of it plays out.... ;)

      And yes! Isn't it amazing when you find strands of the great fairy tales running through literature? So fascinating!

      And your questions!
      #1: the Musgroves live about two miles from the Elliots. They're a large family and the oldest son (Charles) married Mary (Anne's younger sister). Charles and Mary live just next door to the older Musgrove family, so there are really two Musgrove households.

      #2: The Thames being the river in London, Admiral Croft's comment would be a colloquial expression that Sir Walter Elliot will never set anything off in a wild blaze of excitement, but that he seems all right. :)

      #3: A gentleman generally had a manservant who would help him dress (help with his shaving, fix his hair, etc). The fastidious Sir Walter had originally been hard set against the idea of a naval tenant, but apparently he thinks the Admiral (if he was touched up just slightly) would appear quite all right.

      I hope that all helped!

    2. Thank you again for these clarifications. It's frustrating to not have a slight understanding of even the nuance to some passages; I read the passage over and over again, and then I just give up. But it's reassuring that I have a great teacher I can ask. ^^

    3. Kim,
      Oh, you're welcome---and thank you! ;) I'm so glad they helped!


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!