Monday, February 16, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 19



This is one of my favorite chapters in all of Persuasion, surpassed only by two of the following ones (though naturally I tend to think of them together). The little discussion in the shop between the Camden Place ladies and Mr. Elliot? And Captain Wentworth entering the shop? And Anne and Wentworth’s awkward little conversation? All entirely wonderful!

This time around I was particularly noticing Elizabeth and Lady Russell’s reactions to his arrival in Bath. Change is landing on their doorstep, and they can’t evade it by wishing it away or ignoring it.

Change has to be met by stepping forward—unafraid. At the same time, it’s not a heedless, headlong rush. It’s in wisely knowing and awaiting a fitting, mature opportunity, knowing when the time comes ripe—as Anne does—and then being “all over courage” awaiting it. 



Favorite lines/quotes:

“While Admiral Croft was taking this walk with Anne, and expressing his wish of getting Captain Wentworth to Bath, Captain Wentworth was already on his way thither. Before Mrs Croft had written, he was arrived, and the very next time Anne walked out, she saw him.” pg. 171

“…the others were obliged to settle it for them; Miss Elliot maintaining that Mrs Clay had a little cold already, and Mr Elliot deciding on appeal, that his cousin Anne's boots were rather the thickest.” pg. 171-172

“…they had just reached this point, when Anne, as she sat near the window, descried, most decidedly and distinctly, Captain Wentworth walking down the street.

“Her start was perceptible only to herself; but she instantly felt that she was the greatest simpleton in the world, the most unaccountable and absurd! For a few minutes she saw nothing before her; it was all confusion. She was lost, and when she had scolded back her senses, she found the others still waiting for the carriage, and Mr Elliot (always obliging) just setting off for Union Street on a commission of Mrs Clay's. 


“She now felt a great inclination to go to the outer door; she wanted to see if it rained. Why was she to suspect herself of another motive? Captain Wentworth must be out of sight. She left her seat, she would go; one half of her should not be always so much wiser than the other half, or always suspecting the other of being worse than it was. She would see if it rained. She was sent back, however, in a moment by the entrance of Captain Wentworth himself… He was more obviously struck and confused by the sight of her than she had ever observed before; he looked quite red. For the first time, since their renewed acquaintance, she felt that she was betraying the least sensibility of the two. She had the advantage of him in the preparation of the last few moments. All the overpowering, blinding, bewildering, first effects of strong surprise were over with her. Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and misery.” pg. 172

“They had by dint of being so very much together, got to speak to each other with a considerable portion of apparent indifference and calmness; but he could not do it now. Time had changed him, or Louisa had changed him. There was consciousness of some sort or other. He looked very well, not as if he had been suffering in health or spirits, and he talked of Uppercross, of the Musgroves, nay, even of Louisa, and had even a momentary look of his own arch significance as he named her; but yet it was Captain Wentworth not comfortable, not easy, not able to feign that he was.” pg. 173


“She is pretty, I think; Anne Elliot; very pretty, when one comes to look at her. It is not the fashion to say so, but I confess I admire her more than her sister.” pg. 174

“She hoped to be wise and reasonable in time; but alas! alas! she must confess to herself that she was not wise yet.” pg. 175

Possible discussion question/s:

~ Stemming from pride, Elizabeth’s motives in refusing to acknowledge Captain Wentworth are fairly transparent. Why do you think Lady Russell ignores him? Is it because she’s still assiduously pushing the Mr. Elliot connection?


6 comments:

  1. I believe that Lady Russel h is trying to establish distance between her and Anne and Captain Wentworth. She never wants the feelings once felt to be revived because she thinks that she knows better for Anne. Also, let us not forget that she is scheming to get Anne connected to another man. That certainly a viable motive for her behavior.

    I think my favorite bit in this chapter was about Anne suddenly feeling the urge to see if it was raining. Even amongst all her fiercest emotions, she continues to try to give HERSELF reasonable reasons for her curious behavior. I think we have all experienced that at one time or another. Austen really captures it here.

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    1. Susanna,
      And I think she's just unwilling to admit anything/bring up the subject (in fact, thinking about it, at this point in the story she still thinks she's right about CW). I just find it puzzling why she wouldn't say anything as she actually sees him. She knew Anne had been seeing him quite a bit, so she can't really gain too much at this point. I guess it comes down to pride again.

      And yes, exactly! Those moments when we're reasoning ourselves out of or into something (not necessarily bad---just "something") and know perfectly well what's going on. ;)

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  2. I'm so behind! I feel so degradatated. (Forgive me, I just watched "Little Women" with my kids because Sarah has a cold and she saw me writing my blog post about the read-along and wanted to know who all the girls were that were reading the letter, and so... we watched it.)

    But. Putting my head back into Austenland. This chapter! So full of everything! I love Anne convincing herself she has no ulterior motive for going to the window. I love Wentworth being surprised by seeing her and being absolutely unable to behave naturally. I love Anne thinking she'll be totally fine seeing CW at the concert now because she sailed through that chance meeting.

    And I loved the biting observation at the end of the chapter about the "elegant stupidity of private parties" and how Anne is "wearied of such a state of stagnation." Good, good stuff.

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    1. Hamlette,
      Oh no, don't feel degerridated! ;) Seriously, you've been busy.

      But isn't this chapter wonderful??!! And you said it all perfectly.... "I love Anne convincing herself she has no ulterior motive for going to the window. I love Wentworth being surprised by seeing her and being absolutely unable to behave naturally. I love Anne thinking she'll be totally fine seeing CW at the concert now because she sailed through that chance meeting." Most excellently put!!

      And yes, I just love how Anne's internal cogitations start flowering forth in these final chapters. Austen at her best again. :)

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  3. I'm trudging along here, but I'm still in the race:) Anne's internal thoughts trying to find reasons and justifications illuminate her true feelings for CW. Why would anyone have all these "internal cogitations" (wow, new words, I just learned) about a subject if not at all interested in the subject? All her thoughts seem to indicate neutrality of her feelings but there's always something that hints otherwise; I just can't figure out which sentence among them all that hints of this. I guess that attests to JA's writing skills.

    We get to read Anne's internal thoughts but I'm curious about CW's internal thoughts all this time. I guess his unnatural behavior speaks for his thoughts.

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    1. Kim,
      Good! I'm so glad to hear it! ;)

      I think one of the major hinting lines illuminating Anne's feelings here comes just as CW enters: "All the overpowering, blinding, bewildering, first effects of strong surprise were over with her. Still, however, she had enough to feel! It was agitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and misery.” I think Anne is too steady to be so shaken up at the sight of him if she isn't intensely attracted and doesn't have strong feelings for him.

      And definitely! I think CW's awkward stops and starts during the conversation speak volumes. (Not to drop any spoilers), but we do get a delightful bit of explanation near the end, so keep on! ;)

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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!