Friday, January 16, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 6

I could transcribe this entire chapter, detailing all the fascinating little back and forth’s between the two Uppercross households, and all the little instances calling for general charity between such close neighbors and relatives… The lengthy description of Charles and Mary alone (treating of their housekeeping, management, and childrearing!) is so engaging. 


And I love how Austen quietly and subtlety tells more about Anne and Wentworth’s love in that one short line about Anne’s exquisite musical performance: “…excepting one short period of her life, she had never, since the age of fourteen, never since the loss of her dear mother, known the happiness of being listened to, or encouraged by any just appreciation of real taste.” 


Incidentally, it’s a masterful piece of foreshadowing as well. And speaking of foreshadowing…with the delightful visit of the Crofts to the cottage, all the final preparatory plot details are in place, the tension is building and I can hardly wait for Chapter 7!

Favorite lines/quotes:

“Mary was not so repulsive and unsisterly as Elizabeth, nor so inaccessible to all influence of hers… She was always on friendly terms with her brother-in-law; and in the children, who loved her nearly as well, and respected her a great deal more than their mother, she had an object of interest, amusement, and wholesome exertion.” 
pg. 44

“One of the least agreeable circumstances of her residence there, was her being treated with too much confidence by all parties, and being too much in the secret of the complaints of each house…” pg. 45

“Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion she certainly had not. …She…was happy to feel, when Mrs. Croft’s next words explained it to be Mr. Wentworth of whom she spoke, that she had said nothing which might not do for either brother. She immediately felt how reasonable it was, that Mrs. Croft should be thinking and speaking of Edward, and not of Frederick; and with shame at her own forgetfulness, applied herself to the knowledge of their former neighbor’s present state, with proper interest.” pg. 50

Possible discussion question/s:

Dick Musgrove (aboard Captain Wentworth’s frigate) “…had, under the influence of his captain, written the only two letters which his father and mother had ever received from him during the whole of his absence; that is to say, the only two disinterested letters; all the rest had been mere applications for money.” How do you think this shows Captain Wentworth’s character?


12 comments:

  1. I'm going to say something a little, teensy, tiny bit critical of Austen. Please don't virtually slap me. I thought that the repeated examples of people confiding in Anne and asking her to put in a helpful word somewhere got to be a bit longer than necessary. We get four different examples, and I think three would have been sufficient. However, that is a very minor quibble, because all of them are quite funny :-) But I did start to feel like this wasn't driving the story forward very much.

    But anyway, we get a lot of info about Anne's emotions here, not only as regard Captain Wentworth, but also about having to leave her home, how the change in company is affecting her, etc. Her spirits seem to be helped a lot by being in a place where she is both useful and somewhat more appreciated than at home. This makes me happy :-)

    As for your discussion question, I think that a captain of a warship who takes the time and trouble to get his lowest officers to write home to their families is a considerate man who tries to help other people behave better than they might ordinarily be inclined.

    Random note: Mrs. Croft is 38. I'm 34. I always think of the Crofts as retired, but really it's just that there's peace between England and France in 1818, so Admiral Croft has no need to be at sea. Nor has Captain Wentworth.

    I love the Crofts. They're a beautifully devoted couple. Austen says that Charles and Mary Musgrove "might pass for a happy couple" (ouch!), but the Crofts obviously have a truly happy marriage. They are charming.

    Other lines I liked:

    Anne had not wanted this visit to Uppercross, to learn that a removal from one set of people to another, though at a distance of only three miles, will often include a total change of conversation, opinion, and idea. (Which can be really refreshing if you're moving from a place where you're unhappy or unappreciated. "Change of scenery, change of luck," you might say.)

    She knew that when she played she was giving pleasure only to herself; but this was no new sensation. (This makes me sad for Anne, that people don't appreciate her However, I love that she is willing to do things for her own enjoyment too, and not just to please others.)

    I laughed a couple of times in this chapter. Once over Mary insisting on going to pay the Crofts a visit at Kellynch and coming home in "a very animated, comfortable state of imaginary agitation," and once over Admiral Croft getting along so tremendously well with the little Musgrove boys and pretending he's going to carry them away in his coat pockets.

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    1. Re: your criticism, Hamlette .... how could you?!!!! ........... ha, ha ..... no, I'm just kidding ...... I tend to agree. I said in my update post that Anne's personality is being characterized by everyone else. There are so many characters with less than desirable traits that Anne can't help appearing as an angel without having to do much work at all. I'm really hoping that she will make her character shine through more in the upcoming chapters.

      I really like the Crofts too. They have a sort of gentle calmness to their demeanours.

      I kept wondering how comfortable it would be for Anne to visit Mary since she was Charles' first choice and Mary second. I would think it would have been uncomfortable on some levels. I wonder if there will be any exploration into this aspect?

      In any case, I'm enjoying the book so far and looking forward to the advent of Captain Wentworth!

      Oh, and here's my update #1 post: http://cleoclassical.blogspot.ca/2015/01/persuasion-read-along-update-1.html

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    2. Hamlette,
      *Okay, I'm putting my hands in my pockets (metaphorically---as I have to keep typing ;P)*

      But yes, the description does get slightly long.... (I think probably because it's technically violating the Golden Rule of Three), but since it's Austen....and since it is illuminating....and gently humorous....I'm willing to forgive her for it.

      And I think you're exactly right about Captain Wentworth! It's such a little note, but it opens up his character---showing something about his ordinary dealings with other people round him (and from a place of responsibility)---irrespective of whether or not Anne is in the picture.

      And I agree! I LOVE the Crofts! They're such a refreshing picture of 'conjugal felicity'. And good point about the Admiral being retired.... I've felt that, too, but hadn't really thought it out.

      (And 'change of scenery, change of luck'!!! ;) I'm trying to think of Donovan's next line....)

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    3. Cleopatra,
      Yes, it's interesting to think about Anne's visiting at Charles and Mary's after what had happened beforehand, but it does seem they all get along very well. I don't know how far Charles/Anne's courtship process had gone. She did refuse his actual marriage proposal, but I don't know that it was a passionate affair. Life can also adjust and move along with surprising elasticity, and they seem to have fallen very comfortably into the brother-sister relationship....

      Anyhow, I'm so glad you're enjoying it! And I'm hoping to get over and read your post ASAP. :)

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  2. Favorite line: “Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion she certainly had not."

    Things are really starting to happen! I must say I agree with Hamlette. I enjoyed the examples of Anne being the sort of go-to confider and stuck-in-between girl. However, it may perhaps have been slightly drawn out. Having said that, I enjoyed every bit of it. I thought it was a pretty good example of Austen's famed wit.

    As for the discussion questions:

    The captain forced/encouraged the impudent boy to write his worried parents. I believe this is strong evidence for a swoon worthy hero with more empathy and sensitivity than the average captain.

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    1. Dr. Sus,
      I love that line! And yes, indeed---things are starting to happen!

      Also, I do agree in great part about the description. It might be a trifle drawn out, but---ah, well---sometimes the masters can get away with certain things. ;)

      And you're right. I think it's quite impressive and illuminating that CW would be influencing his (very minor) officers to write home. (I think we may soon have an intriguing hero on our hands.... ;))

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  3. Here is my update for Chapters 1-6. Thank you for the discussion question/ideas, they help me immensely.

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    1. Plethora,
      Wonderful! I'm looking forward to reading your update in depth and in full as soon as I can. :) And I'm so glad the questions and ideas are helpful!

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  4. A naval captain with tender heart. What more can a gal want! This discussion question passage is all that was needed to know the type of person he is; that is, a man who cares enough to persuade a prodigal son to return his heart home. From the description of Dick, he seems very immature. Just imagine how much time and effort went into persuading him. Who would do that except for a truly good-hearted man.

    I can understand the circumstances of " They were always perfectly agreed in the want of more money, ..." But what I don't understand is " ...and a strong inclination for a handsome present from his father; but ...Mary thought it a great shame that such a present was not made, he always contended for his father's having many other uses for his money, and a right to spend it as he liked." -- I never imagined (even in JA days) that daughter in laws in Western countries expect money to be given to them from the in-laws. I always thought this type of inclination to benefit from the wealth of the in-laws was limited to Asian countries. I have always touted to my friends in Korea that American or Western daughter-in-laws never expect anything from their in-laws, not one cent, because they have always been (and are) independent women. But when I read this passage, the ground underneath me shook. Do Western women also expect something from in-laws if they are wealthy, in a subtle way, like buy them a house or something?

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    1. Kim,
      Isn't that passage lovely? And your summary of Captain Wentworth is wonderful! A truly good-hearted man, indeed.... :)

      And hmmmmm. I'm thinking this through. I don't know all the ins and outs of money arrangements in JA's day. I know there were marriage settlements on the woman at the time of a wedding (both from the father and I think sometimes from the groom as well), but that would already have happened in Mary's case prior to this reference. Charles, as a country gentleman (meaning lifestyle here, he isn't personally involved in an active, moneymaking profession) and as an oldest son (who will inherit most of his father's property) has already probably come into some amount of his fortune when he came of age. But apparently it's also within his father's discretion to give him some more money if he has it. So I think this would be more Charles on the receiving end more particularly as a son than Mary as a daughter-in-law (except, of course, as she's counted with her husband).

      As far as nowadays, though, no. At least here in America, from situations I've known/observed, it's not at all the norm. If we're talking about married daughters and something big like a house, I don't think they would necessarily expect it from their own parents. In a tight financial situation, etc. I'd say it's possibly natural to look to close family for some help, but it's not an "expected" thing. I know some who have rented a house from in-laws and some who are buying a house from the in-laws....but that seems different than having one given to you outright. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general I'd say there is a different mentality. Not in a harsh way, but just as more of a cultural given.

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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!