Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 14

Here we get a long bantering visit with Charles, Mary and Lady Russell (whom somehow I never particularly like in this chapter :)), and also a hearty taste of the Musgrove’s wonderfully jolly Christmas festivities! With its “tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and pies” and its “roaring Christmas fire, which seemed determined to be heard” over all the talk and laughter and children, it always makes me think of a (cheerful) Dickens scene.

Also, with Captain Benwick’s continued interest spoken of and Mr. Elliot mentioned, we again clearly have two other potential suitors hovering on the outskirts. Meanwhile, Captain Wentworth has gone off to visit his brother in Shropshire(!) and Anne and Lady Russell take leave of the country and make their official entrance into Bath, which marks our full transition to the second half of the book!

Some favorite lines/quotes:

“Mary had had her evils; but upon the whole, as was evident by her staying so long, she had found more to enjoy than to suffer. …there had been so much going on every day, there had been so many walks between their lodgings and the Harvilles, and she had got books from the library, and changed them so often, that the balance had certainly been much in favour of Lyme.” pg. 126-127

“No,” admitted Charles, “I do not know that he ever does, in a general way; but however, it is a very clear thing that he admires you exceedingly. His head is full of some books that he is reading upon your recommendation, and he wants to talk to you about them; he has found out something or other in one of them which he thinks—oh! I cannot pretend to remember it, but it was something very fine—I overheard him telling Henrietta all about it; and then ‘Miss Elliot’ was spoken of in the highest terms! Now Mary, I declare it was so, I heard it myself, and you were in the other room. ‘Elegance, sweetness, beauty.’ Oh! there was no end of Miss Elliot's charms.” pg. 128

“So do I, Anne,” said Charles. “I am sure Lady Russell would like him. He is just Lady Russell’s sort. Give him a book, and he will read all day long.” “Yes, that he will!” exclaimed Mary, tauntingly. “He will sit poring over his book, and not know when a person speaks to him, or when one drop's one's scissors, or anything that happens…” pg. 129

“Everybody has their taste in noises as well as in other matters; and sounds are quite innoxious, or most distressing, by their sort rather than their quantity…” pg. 131-132

“Anne did not share these feelings. She persisted in a very determined, though very silent disinclination for Bath; caught the first dim view of the extensive buildings, smoking in rain, without any wish of seeing them better; felt their progress through the streets to be, however disagreeable, yet too rapid; for who would be glad to see her when she arrived? And looked back, with fond regret, to the bustles of Uppercross and the seclusion of Kellynch.” pg. 132

Possible discussion question/s:

~ Do you think Captain Benwick would be “just Lady Russell’s sort?” He’s a bit of an enigma—a quite diffident man who yet successfully commanded a ship. Do you think he’s different in action versus private life?


  1. I agree with you, Lady Russel was not quite as impressive in this chapter. I believe it may have something to do with the contrast between "high society" that Anne is supposed to associate with and the warm happy middle class that she has been spending so much time with. Lady Russel's cockiness and pride doesn't sit well against the warmth and love of the Crofts.

    Anyhow... as to your question:

    I highlighy doubt that Benwick will be able to impress Lady Russel. She seems pretty hard to please, much harder to impress than Anne anyway. I don't think that his simple bumbling ways will please her at all. I suppose only time will tell.

    1. Susanna,
      Good point about the contrast!

      And yes, I can't decide whether Lady Russell would like Benwick or not..... She doesn't seem as patient as Anne (to do the drawing out/putting-him-at-ease that would be necessary), does she?

  2. We mustn't forget that Captain Benwick has suffered a terrible blow not long ago. Before losing his fiancee, he might not have been as shy and retiring as he is now. I would imagine that, in the end, his being merely a naval captain would cause Lady Russell to turn up her nose.

    Speaking of Lady Russell, I was struck by what she said to Charles toward the beginning of the chapter: "Any acquaintance of Anne's will always be welcome to me," was Lady Russell's kind answer. HAH! We all know that is so not true, after her attitude toward Captain Wentworth.

    And I find it rather noteworthy that Wentworth has not gone to visit Louisa. In fact, he left Lyme altogether and went to visit his brother! This is not the behavior of a devoted lover.

    I love this bit: "Immediately surrounding Mrs. Musgrove were the little Harvilles, whom she was sedulously guarding from the tyranny of the two children from the Cottage, expressly arrived to amuse them." That makes me think of several times in my own childhood when my parents invited kids over to play with us, and we ended up kind of hiding from them and wishing they would leave.

    And we see that Lady Russell can change her mind -- she's recanted her declaration that she never wants to see Mr. Elliot! Wonders never cease.

    1. Hamlette,
      Very true. And I know, after turning her nose up so violently at CW, I can't imagine her doing much differently with anyone else, either -- but maybe she's grown and changed in those eight years as well?? But then in the last chapter, she was still "reveling in angry pleasure"....hmmm. My and oh, dear....this is turning into a bit of a "bash Lady Russell" session! (She really isn't the nicest of people here, though, as is evidenced by her attitude toward the Musgrove's Christmas festivities. :P) But then again, (speaking of her ability to change) as you mentioned, she has changed her mind about Mr. Elliot.

      And I love how that little clue is dropped with CW going off to visit his brother!!! ;) I LOVE picturing their reunion (even though, as we can guess, CW isn't feeling his happiest at the moment).

    2. I always think of a part of Emma regarding Captain Wentworth going off to see his brother -- that part where Mr. Knightley goes to visit John and Isabella and says it was exactly the wrong place to go because he saw such marital happiness that he was constantly reminded of wanting to marry Emma :-) I imagine Captain Wentworth feeling some of the same things when visiting his brother and his new wife.

    3. Hamlette,
      I hadn't thought of the Wentworth-Knightley similarity before, but you're right! Oh, I just love how Austen handles siblings. Even the bad ones (like the Crawfords in MP) seem to have a mutual understanding going on, don't they?

    4. I'm super fascinated with sibling relationships, and I LOVE how Austen handles them.

    5. Hamlette,
      I love your head canon about Wentworth experiencing the same feelings that Knightley felt when he saw his brother and Isabella. That's going to be my head canon as well now!

      I don't have much to contribute for this particular chapter although I thought I detected some subtle foreshadowing about Louisa and Captain Benwick (Captain Benwick's sudden wish to remain in Lyme). And that I'm of the opinion that Lady Russell wouldn't have approved of Captain Benwick. I think she would have preferred him to Wentworth but at the back of her mind I'm sure she'd still be thinking that Anne could still do better.

    6. Sweet! (I don't know how I managed before I learned the term "headcanon." Cuz I have headcanon for just about everything I've ever seen/read....)

    7. Hannah,
      Good point about the foreshadowing! And yes, I agree. Lady Russell probably wouldn't have been thrilled about Benwick either. Mr. Elliot (as he first appears) seems to be pretty much her ideal of perfection. :P


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!