Austen is subtle with Anne—in a similar way to her handling of Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. We have to study, compare notes, read the minutest details… Detective work comes into play. But here in Chapter 7, we definitely start getting a bit more “into” Anne’s emotions. And what a rollercoaster of emotions!
“…So altered that he should not have known her again!” These were words which could not but dwell with her. Yet she soon began to rejoice that she had heard them. They were of sobering tendency; they allayed agitation; they composed, and consequently must make her happier.
“Frederick Wentworth had used such words, or something like them, but without an idea that they would be carried round to her. He had thought her wretchedly altered, and, in the first moment of appeal, had spoken as he felt. He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill; deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.
“He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone forever.” pg 62
Poor Anne! Misread and misunderstood, undervalued (to Sir Walter and Elizabeth she is ‘only Anne’), yet consistently clear-sighted, seeing round circumstances, and constantly and correctly interpreting every person and situation round her!
“She had seen him. They had met. They had been once more in the same room! Soon, however, she began to reason with herself, and try to be feeling less. Eight years, almost eight years had passed, since all had been given up. How absurd to be resuming the agitation which such an interval had banished into distance and indistinctness! What might not eight years do? Events of every description, changes, alienations, removals,—all, all must be comprised in it; and oblivion of the past—how natural, how certain too! It included nearly a third part of her own life. Alas! With all her reasonings, she found, that to retentive feelings eight years may be little more than nothing.” pg. 61
“…she could take no revenge, for he was not altered, or not for the worse. She had already acknowledged it to herself, and she could not think differently, let him think of her as he would. No; the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in no respect lessening his personal advantages. She had seen the same Frederick Wentworth.” pg. 61
“He said it, she (Mrs. Croft) knew, to be contradicted. His bright proud eye spoke the happy conviction that he was nice; and Anne Elliot was not out of his thoughts, when he more seriously described the woman he should wish to meet with. “A strong mind, with sweetness of manner,” made the first and the last of the description.” pg. 62-63
Possible discussion question/s:
~ Here the tough, underlying question of Persuasion is coming to light: What is the true definition of strength and weakness? It can’t be answered in one sitting—we’ll be studying it played out in story for the rest of the book—but how do you think the contrast shows up in this chapter? Irrespective of confused and contrasting 'feelings' (i.e. confidence or mortification), who is strongest and who is weakest?