Friday, February 6, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 15

A line from this chapter that springs out at me is Anne’s when she thinks of “the littlenesses of a town.” Coming from all the deep doings at Uppercross and Lyme, where hearts are hurting (some openly, some privately)—coming from a group of people who have just dealt with a tragedy (experiencing the tight-binding activity that such a tragedy produces—with everyone thinking and acting and being motivated together), the “littlenesses” line seems to apply in many ways to this entire chapter. Not that there can’t be deeply aching hearts in Bath, but all in all it’s a tremendously sudden contrast.

Mr. Elliot is now firmly in the picture. Reading it with a broad mind, I was noticing this time around how much he is apparently uniting in his person both the polish and sophistication of high society with a genuinely warm gentleness and concern. So do we have a new phenomenon appearing? Or is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Only time will tell!

Some favorite lines/quotes:

“It was evident how little the women were used to the sight of anything tolerable, by the effect which a man of decent appearance produced. He had never walked anywhere arm-in-arm with Colonel Wallis (who was a fine military figure, though sandy-haired) without observing that every woman's eye was upon him; every woman’s eye was sure to be upon Colonel Wallis.” Modest Sir Walter! He was not allowed to escape, however. His daughter and Mrs Clay united in hinting that Colonel Wallis's companion might have as good a figure as Colonel Wallis, and certainly was not sandy-haired.” pg. 138-139 

(Sir Walter about Mary): “The last time I saw her she had a red nose, but I hope that may not happen every day.” “Oh! no, that must have been quite accidental. In general she has been in very good health and very good looks since Michaelmas.” pg. 139

“It was possible that he (Mr. Elliot) might stop in his way home to ask them how they did. They could think of no one else. Mrs. Clay decidedly thought it Mr. Elliot’s knock." Mrs. Clay was right. With all the state which a butler and foot-boy could give, Mr. Elliot was ushered into the room.” pg. 139

“…Anne, smiling and blushing, very becomingly shewed to Mr. Elliot the pretty features which he had by no means forgotten, and instantly saw, with amusement at his little start of surprise, that he had not been at all aware of who she was. He looked completely astonished, but not more astonished than pleased; his eyes brightened! and with the most perfect alacrity he welcomed the relationship, alluded to the past, and entreated to be received as an acquaintance already. He was quite as good-looking as he had appeared at Lyme, his countenance improved by speaking, and his manners were so exactly what they ought to be, so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable, that she could compare them in excellence to only one person's manners. They were not the same, but they were, perhaps, equally good.” pg. 139-140

Possible discussion question/s:

~ What do you think Mr. Elliot’s take on a person’s initial physical appearance might be? Does it coincide with Sir Walter’s? He appears taken with Anne (even with the handsome Elizabeth beside her). In fact, he admired Anne beforehand at Lyme and Lady Russell also noticed a change. Do you think Anne is growing more beautiful?


  1. Oh, Mr. Elliot. (SPOILERS) The first time I read this, I was not at all suspicious of him, and thought he had simply grown up from back when he refused to get along with Sir Walter. I rather expected that Anne would grow quite fond of him, and that she would be expecting a proposal from him when Captain Wentworth would come back on the scene and she'd have to make up her mind between them. Of course, Austen gives us little hints about him, that Anne thinks there must be more to his interest than is obvious, and that she even compares him to Lady Russell at one point -- he was more interested in hearing her account of the accident at Lyme than anyone besides Lady Russell. Such a comparison must be intentional to make ups a bit skeptical of him. (END SPOILERS)

    I think Mr.Elliot is certainly conscious of appearances and finds them important -- he's paying attention to Anne because he seems to find her attractive, and he does dress well and have a nice carriage and a servant who travels with him, etc. But he doesn't strike me as being nearly so much of a popinjay as Sir Walter.

    I got a kick out of Anne's thoughts when she was considering whether Mr. Elliot might be interested in Elizabeth: "Most earnestly did she wish that he might not be too nice, or too observant if Elizabeth were his object." Ouch!

    1. Hamlette,
      Yes, he's definitely not a popinjay! And he does seem to gauge people off more than their initial appearance (and be able to see more in their appearance than Sir Walter).

      (SPOILERS) One of the things I always find hard in Persuasion is to think of Mr. Elliot as being apparently good. I was fifteen when I first read it and I think I just never considered him as a dangerous opponent to Captain Wentworth in the battle for Anne, so it wasn't any great surprise when his full colors were revealed. And of course, ever since whenever he comes on the scene he's just "the bad guy." So this time around I'm working hard to try and picture how he might appear if I were Anne just meeting him. ;P Tricky! (END OF SPOILERS)

      (And oh, yes....I know, that Elizabeth line....double ouch!!)

    2. (SPOILERS) I'm trying to remember right now what exactly he's actually up to, and failing miserably. Other than that he's in cahoots with someone odious. (END SPOILERS)

    3. Hamlette,
      Ohhhh, then I'll try not to drop any specifics! ;)

    4. Hee, no, it's all good! I mean, I've read this three times and seen two movie versions -- do not worry about spoilage where I am concerned! I'm pretty sure I know, I just don't remember for sure/completely, etc.

  2. It's been awhile but I'm trying to catch up with the readings this weekend. I'm not going to give up, although the prose is really difficult to understand sometimes. The suspenseful story however makes up for all this hard work.

    I don't know but there seems to be something fishy going on with Mr. Elliot. He's just too nice and accommodating. What's with the visit late at night?
    If there's going to be a love triangle among CW and Capt Benwick and Mr. Elliot, I definitely will root for Capt. Benwick (of course, after CW) over Mr. Elliot. There's something more honest about Capt. Benwick, who doesn't try so hard to win other people by obliging them with what they want to hear. He's just so true to himself and his personality - that's more appealing to me.

    Sir Elliot is incorrigible: " It was evident how little the women were used to the sight of any thing tolerable, by the effect which a man of decent appearance produced." Ha Ha LOL. I assume he was internally thinking that he was " a man of decent appearance." In some ways, I don't mind Sir Elliot; he's just the way he is, considering himself the center of all attention at Bath. After all his comments on how everyone was wanting to get to know him and Liz at Bath, I have finally come to accept him as who he is. He's not an evil conceited person, but just a person who doesn't know he is conceited.

    1. Kim,
      Oh, don't worry! :) You can finish up next week (or even later!) if you have to. ;) And I know, older writers can be hard sometimes.....but I'm so happy to have had you along for the reading here -- and so glad you stuck with it and are enjoying it! :)

      Um....I can't answer that bit about Mr. Elliot visiting late without spoilers -- so keep reading! ;) And yes, I think Sir Elliot is hilarious. Conceited and foolish, yes....but extremely funny. You just have to end up laughing sometimes. :)

    2. I'm totally happy to go back and discuss stuff too, as you go along, Kim!

      I agree that Sir Walter isn't evil, just deluded :-)

    3. Thank you all for your words of encouragement. I don't think I could have made it so far as I have without yours and Heidi's help. Both you and Heidi are such good writers that I secretly copy your comments in my own personal commonplace book ( I've read somewhere that COPYING the good writings of others consistently can improve one's own writing! I hope you don't mind. I would never publish it anywhere w/o your consent; I just copy them in my personal notebook for practice). I feel so assured to have such good teachers by my side as I read this wonderful book.

    4. Kim,
      Thank you so very much for your kind words of encouragement!! I was truly floored. And oh no, thank you for telling me! I trust you and I'm most honored. :) I enjoy and look forward to visiting with you, too!

    5. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I'm flattered! Kind of astonished, perhaps a bit agog, but flattered :-) I've done that myself, copied out sections of favorite books to get a feel for how those authors strung sentences together. It's a great way to figure out what kinds of constructions work for you and what don't feel comfortable at all.

      So, no, I don't mind at all :-)


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!