Monday, February 9, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 16

The long description of Mr. Elliot here is quite striking! Apparently he’s a model of perfection: “Everything united in him; good understanding, correct opinions, knowledge of the world, and a warm heart. He had strong feelings of family attachment and family honour, without pride or weakness; he lived with the liberality of a man of fortune, without display; he judged for himself in everything essential, without defying public opinion in any point of worldly decorum. He was steady, observant, moderate, candid…”

And now pause and listen carefully to the rest! “…never run away with by spirits or by selfishness, which fancied itself strong feeling; and yet, with a sensibility to what was amiable and lovely, and a value for all the felicities of domestic life, which characters of fancied enthusiasm and violent agitation seldom really possess. She was sure that he had not been happy in marriage. Colonel Wallis said it, and Lady Russell saw it…” Did you notice how the description switched to Lady Russell’s personal opinion of what high spirits and enthusiasm indicate?

And I always end up smiling happily about this bit: “In the course of the same morning, Anne and her father chancing to be alone together, he began to compliment her on her improved looks; he thought her “less thin in her person, in her cheeks; her skin, her complexion, greatly improved; clearer, fresher. Had she been using any thing in particular?” “No, nothing.” “Merely Gowland,” he supposed. “No, nothing at all.” “Ha! he was surprised at that;” and added, “certainly you cannot do better than to continue as you are; you cannot be better than well; or I should recommend Gowland, the constant use of Gowland, during the spring months.” (Of course, we all know why she’s blooming…seeing how she’s been in company with a Certain Person over the past few months!)

Some favorite lines/quotes:

“Lady Russell's composed mind and polite manners were put to some trial on this point, in her intercourse in Camden Place. The sight of Mrs Clay in such favour, and of Anne so overlooked, was a perpetual provocation to her there; and vexed her as much when she was away, as a person in Bath who drinks the water, gets all the new publications, and has a very large acquaintance, has time to be vexed.” pg. 143

“It was now some years since Anne had begun to learn that she and her excellent friend could sometimes think differently…” pg. 144

“She could determine nothing at present. In that house Elizabeth must be first; and she was in the habit of such general observance as “Miss Elliot,” that any particularity of attention seemed almost impossible. Mr Elliot, too, it must be remembered, had not been a widower seven months. A little delay on his side might be very excusable. In fact, Anne could never see the crape round his hat, without fearing that she was the inexcusable one, in attributing to him such imaginations; for though his marriage had not been very happy, still it had existed so many years that she could not comprehend a very rapid recovery from the awful impression of its being dissolved. However it might end, he was without any question their pleasantest acquaintance in Bath: she saw nobody equal to him; and it was a great indulgence now and then to talk to him about Lyme, which he seemed to have as lively a wish to see again, and to see more of, as herself. They went through the particulars of their first meeting a great many times. He gave her to understand that he had looked at her with some earnestness. She knew it well; and she remembered another person's look also.” pg. 144-145

Possible discussion question/s:

~ (Anne says), “My idea of good company, Mr Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.” “You are mistaken,” said he gently, “that is not good company; that is the best. Good company requires only birth, education, and manners, and with regard to education is not very nice. Birth and good manners are essential; but a little learning is by no means a dangerous thing in good company; on the contrary, it will do very well.”

This is such a gently humorous debate, expanding much farther than the excerpt above. Which side do you tend to agree with? Do you think Anne is being overly fastidious?


  1. I'm starting to really worry about Sir Walter's views of Mrs. Clay. Mostly because Anne is worrying about it.

    Remember a couple chapters ago we were discussing what would happen to Anne and Elizabeth if they didn't marry and Sir Walter died? We find out here that Anne "might always command a home with Lady Russell." So that would take care of her for a while, anyway.

    I found it so interesting that Anne considers herself as having more real pride than the rest of her family. What do you think about this? I think she sort of means "self-respect" rather than what we think of as "pride."

    1. Hamlette,
      Yes. I'm not sure what Sir Walter thinks of Mrs. Clay. I think he's mostly just Sir Clueless and hasn't thought about it at all and is more likely than not to fall easy prey to any designs she has on him.

      And yes, I think Anne's speaking more of self-respect (i.e. a good and balanced sort of pride). I've thought about this in terms of P&P before when I read someone who pointed out that Darcy's pride is really a twisted version of a good kind of pride. It wouldn't have been wrong for a man in his place and position to have a strong self-respect with all the attendant responsibilities he had (including all those looking up to him). But it's not a self-centered, egoistic feeling.

  2. I love the fact that Anne is aware of her strong ideas and even a bit ashamed of them. Despite her more modern views amongst her old fashiond and stuffy family, she does not have any air of superiority. It keeps her humble and likeable.

    My favorite part of this chapter was the short discussion she had with Mr. Elliot. They are funny to watch. I thought their argument to be in good humor, with Mr. Elliot using a bit of sarcasm.

    1. Susanna,
      Yes, I love how Anne can "see around circumstances" (including seeing around herself!)

      And when it comes to the fun debate, I tend to agree with her definition of the company worth spending time with and then I tend to agree with Mr. Elliot's definition of such company being "the best." ;)


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!