Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 8


With Wentworth’s wonderful humor beginning to show itself—and all the banter between him and the Crofts—this chapter is delightful! Except, of course, for all the other things happening around it that are occasionally bringing Anne to tears…

By now it’s quite clear that Henrietta, Louisa and the Miss Hayters are all falling for him. Correspondingly, we get some amazing paragraphs: “They (Wentworth and Anne) had no conversation together, no intercourse but what the commonest civility required. Once so much to each other! Now nothing! There had been a time, when of all the large party now filling the drawing-room at Uppercross, they would have found it most difficult to cease to speak to one another. …there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement.”

Romantic, with a deep and mature yearning… Absolutely beautiful! 


Favorite lines/quotes:

“…Anne felt the utter impossibility, from her knowledge of his mind, that he could be unvisited by remembrance any more than herself. There must be the same immediate association of thought… When he talked, she heard the same voice, and discerned the same mind.” pg. 64-65

“The admiralty,” he continued, “entertain themselves now and then, with sending a few hundred men to sea, in a ship not fit to be employed. But they have a great many to provide for; and among the thousands that may just as well go to the bottom as not, it is impossible for them to distinguish the very set who may be least missed.” pg. 66

“There was a momentary expression in Captain Wentworth’s face at this speech, a certain glance of his bright eye, and curl of his handsome mouth, which convinced Anne, that instead of sharing in Mrs. Musgrove’s kind wishes, as to her son, he had probably been at some pains to get rid of him; but it was too transient an indulgence of self-amusement to be detected by any who understood him less than herself; in another moment he was perfectly collected and serious…” pg. 68

“…while the agitations of Anne’s slender form, and pensive face, may be considered as very completely screened, Captain Wentworth should be allowed some credit for the self-command with which he attended (to Mrs. Musgrove)” pg. 69

“This brought his sister upon him.” pg. 70

“I would assist any brother officer’s wife that I could, and I would bring any thing of Harville’s from the world’s end, if he wanted it.” pg. 70

Possible discussion question/s:

~ What do you think of the debate between Captain Wentworth and his sister? Do you agree with one side or the other?

~ Do you think Wentworth was arguing his side in sober earnest, or in high spirits (his thoughts possibly skipping around a little with Anne present)?


20 comments:

  1. I loooooove this chapter so much. Definitely my favourite chapter so far!

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    1. Naomi,
      Isn't it charming?? And I just love all the conversation flying back and forth....so realistic! ;)

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  2. It was really fun to watch Captain Wentworth in all his glory. However, it is a bit annoying how many feelings are left unsaid.

    ~ What do you think of the debate between Captain Wentworth and his sister? Do you agree with one side or the other?

    I agree with the Crofts. They do have more experience and were happy together. If I were a captains wife, I would surely rather be by his side than waiting at home desperately worrying that something horrible has happened for months at a time.

    ~ Do you think Wentworth was arguing his side in sober earnest, or in high spirits (his thoughts possibly skipping around a little with Anne present)?


    He was engaged to a girl in the room! There is no doubt that he must have been somewhat distracted. Perhaps his earnestness is a trick (to himself or to Anne, or perhaps to both) that he has gotten over her, that he has recovered the hurt she did to him, and that he can manage just fine alone. It probably helps him that there are girls everywhere just cooing over his every word.

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    1. Dr. Sus,
      Yes, lots of women have done it, but I can't imagine being at home while your husband was off fighting, etc. and I love Mrs. Croft's take! Also, with all those undercurrents going on, I tend to agree about whether or not Wentworth was completely in earnest. It's not bravado, but he may very definitely think that's what he thinks. :)

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    2. I like the idea that he's trying to convince both himself and Anne that he's over her. That makes a great deal of sense -- I like it!

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    3. Hamlette,
      Hee! I was just typing up a reply to your comment below, so touching on the topic again just as your comment popped up here. Very funny.... ;P

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    4. Shhhh. We're posting things at exactly the same time. Don't tell anyone, or the internet might break.

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    5. Hamlette,
      That is funny. :D I just posted Chapter 9 before answering comments here and during the process my laptop crashed (not once) but twice! Maybe a gentle hint to head out for chores??? :)

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  3. I think that Wentworth believes himself to be truthful, though Mrs. Croft says he's "talking quite idly." But he does acknowledge that because she was with her husband on his ships, she was comfortable -- that being with the person you love makes up for any discomfort of surroundings, which I found very sweet. Friendship and companionship are so very prized in this novel -- as you noted, Wentworth "would bring anything of Harville's from the world's end, if he wanted it" because they are friends.

    I myself agree with Mrs. Croft. I've lived in two apartments that for reasons of size or other conditions were unpleasant. But because that's where we needed to be for Cowboy's job, I was much more comfortable there because I was with him than I could ever have been alone. I love it when she says, "While we were together, you know, there was nothing to be feared." I feel exactly that way! Whenever my husband has to travel for work, I am prone to imagining all sorts of terrible things happening to him. If we're travelling together, I'm totally sanguine because whatever happens to one of us happens to both.

    Anne's got a bit of self-deception going on in this chapter. She "felt the utter impossibility, from her knowledge of his mind, that he could be unvisited by remembrance any more than herself," and there she was correct. Of course Wentworth was thinking of how different things were between them. But "she was very far from conceiving it to be of equal pain." Partly she's undervaluing herself, as she does right along in this first part of the novel. She thinks why would Wentworth be as pained as she by this? She's lost her prettiness, she's quiet and boring, she's basically nobody. While he has grown handsomer, is fascinating, and is the center of attention. She thinks she has so much more to miss than he has.

    And I feel so bad for both of them when Wentworth says, "It was a very great object with me at that time to be at sea; a very great object. I wanted to be doing something." We -- and Anne -- know why he had that great need to be at sea, to be active and "doing something." Poor, dear Wentworth.

    (I have to split up my comment! Blogger says it is too long.)

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    1. Hamlette,
      Oh, I love when he acknowledges her point with his "nothing to the purpose"! The brother-sister banter in this chapter gets me every time. :) And yes, I think Anne feels he's moved on with his life (or is trying to) and therefore isn't hurting as much. Though, interestingly, I think his reactions are all a mix of more anger and hurt---both together---which leads to the "I don't care, I'm moving on" attitude. Hmmmm.

      And oh, that line at the end (about wanting to be doing something)!!!!!! Chokes me up SO BAD. :{

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    2. Don't you just want, like, a prequel to this about Frederick Wentworth as a kid, hanging out with his sister and brother? They're such a cool family! These two, in particular, make me think of Henry and Eleanor Tilney, ten years older.

      And yes, he's very angry still. Angry and bitter. Probably why I like him so much.

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    3. Hamlette,
      YES. That would. be. so fun, amazing and incredible. Incredible and amazing to write that is, too! Hmmmm. (Wow, that would be fun to write. :))

      And yes, come to think of it, that all means CW's pretty intense, too. Definitely a gripping hero.

      Well....and now I really must head out to chores!!!! ;)

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  4. There was one line that I found very telling about Wentworth's way of thinking. It's also there where they're talking about ships he's captained. He says, "Ah! she was a dear old Asp to me. She did all that I wanted. I knew she would." I have to think that he's contrasting his ship, who did what he wanted, with Anne, who did not. Whether he's making the contrast consciously or not, I feel like it's him saying things/people who do what he wants earn his affection. He's a captain, after all, used to being obeyed. Even when he knew Anne before, he was a Commander, which meant he could be in command of a navy ship even though he hadn't reached the rank of Captain yet. It's not surprising that he would harbor a lot of feelings about a person who dared do what he did not want, and that he would be unable to forget her.

    But that doesn't make me dislike Wentworth, just understand him better. Who could dislike a man who talked with Mrs. Musgrove "in a low voice, about her son, doing it with so much sympathy and natural grace, as shewed the kindest consideration for all that was real and unabsurd in the parent's feelings." Kind and thoughtful <3

    And I'm so very amused by Austen's aside about how "[p]ersonal size and mental sorrow have certainly no necessary proportions. A large bulky figure has as good a right to be in a deep affliction, as the most graceful set of limbs in the world." Kind of a random observation to toss in there, but it's funny.

    Finally, poor Anne. Thinking that Wentworth might be looking at her only to try to see in her face "the ruins of the face which had once charmed him." Oh, my, how that makes my heart ache for her. This chapter ends on such a sad note. "His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything." :-(

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    1. Hamlette #2! :)
      Good point about his attitude as a captain. (No spoilers :)), but I'm turning my head around how that would fit in with some things said at the end. Let me think about it for a couple days---but I think we might be on to something interesting here. ;)

      Every time I read this, somehow Wentworth ends up vaulting to the top of my Austen hero list. He has problems to grow through, etc. but oh, there's just his personality and who he is. He has his weak points, but somehow you never doubt his strength and activity. And even when he says Certain Things, you can still see his gentleness later---a gentleness that's not soft (in a wrong way). A true and upstanding man. Yes, I like him a great deal, indeed!!!!

      And that paragraph about Mrs. Musgrove! I actually typed it up a couple times, trying to decide whether or not to include it in the post. On the one hand I've got it memorized just because it's so tangible....on the other.... Well, either way it's good poignant Austen! :)

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    2. All good characters have to grow and change during a story, so I think this is part of CW's character arc.

      He's been at the top of my Austen hero list ever since I read this, but I think you may have known that already. He's more interesting to me than any of the others -- for a while, Mr. Darcy gave him a run for his money, but this reading is just confirming for me that Wentworth is more my style.

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    3. Hamlette!
      Yes, I did. ;) Personally, I really like both Darcy and Knightley---and Edmund quite well---but yes, there's something about Wentworth that gets me....every time. His humor? His deeper development? I don't know. He's simply dear and splendid CW. :) ('Style' is a good description. :))

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  5. Actually, I was quite delightfully surprised at all the level-headed, honest comments by Mrs. Croft regarding how women can control their desire for comfort to achieve their "goal", and were not just " fine ladies" but also "rational creatures." She, herself, is an excellent proof of this; she lived on board a ship, "knowing nothing superior to the accomodations of a man of war." Also, she mentions Mrs. Harville and her clan living " perfectly comfortable" on their way to Plymouth. She believes in the strength and rationality of women to adjust to discomfort if need be to reach their ultimate purpose, especially when they want so much to see their loved ones.


    CW, however, seems overall negative towards women, viewing them as extra workload that needs to accomodated at every turn: "It is rather from feeling how impossible it is, with all one's effort, and all one's sacrifices, to make accommodation on board, such as women ought to have." Could this be an indirect comment about the source of his failed engagement? His relationship with Anne and subsequent heartbreak may have affected his views on women in general:" I hate to hear of women on board, or to seem them on board; and no ship, under my command, shall ever convey a family of ladies any where, if I can help it."

    But I don't think Wentworth was arguing his side in sober earnest. He's a man of depth, so underneath he understands that some women are not all about "comfort."

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    1. Kim,
      Isn't Mrs. Croft wonderful??? :)

      Yes, I agree about CW and I love how you put it! "....a man of depth, so underneath he understands that some women are not all about "comfort." I think that's exactly right---but, in either case, it's splendid that his sister is there to take him on. It's such a great sibling interaction scene. ;)

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  6. I'm kind of sorry to bring some negativity to the comments box but when I was re-reading this chapter I have to admit that I was troubled by something. There's that part where Austen describes how Mrs Musgrove is sitting in-between Anne and Wentworth and how she's giving these "large, fat sighings over the destiny of a son whom nobody alive had cared for". I think Austen's being quite cruel, I really do. Even if I hadn't already known that she was a spinster I think I would have been able to guess because I don't think that's something a mother could have written.

    On a much more positive note, I love the Crofts in this chapter! They're such a lovely, warm, happy couple and I love how they both affectionately tease Wentworth and don't take his arguments too seriously.

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    1. Hannah,
      Yes, that part's actually bothered me a bit, too. The nearest I can come to rationalizing it is that it probably had something to do with the childrearing methods of the day where children (including the Austens themselves, I believe) were put out as infants to hired nurses and then later sent off to boarding schools (for varying amounts of time). It seems that (by and large) such a practice naturally creates somewhat of a society wide distance between parents and children. Of course, there were definite exceptions and I don't know for certain (this is just kind of a theory of mine), but you do see something similar in Mansfield Park as well. Also, and this came up in a discussion with a later chapter, but Austen wasn't able to go back over Persuasion before she died, and it is possible she might have revised that section. I haven't seen any of her other first drafts to compare with how much she toned and smoothed things from one draft to the next, so I guess there's really no knowing.

      And yes, indeed! The Croft's are delightful in here. I just love their affectionate teasing -- and it's so good for Wentworth. ;)

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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!