Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 20

I LOVE this chapter! With all its opening hopes—from the conversation in the octagon room (with its deep desires on both sides running under the surface) all the way on through Anne’s further expanding, exquisite realizations—it's simply beautiful! And then there’s the end where we’re left hanging in suspense…

Mr. Elliot is starting to get very annoying, but then, to balance that annoyance, we have Sir Walter acknowledging CW (first by bowing in the octagon room and later in his delightful little aside to Lady Dalrymple). And I always love how Austen perfectly describes everyone moving and shifting during the concert itself—such realism and surety of language!

Again there are a LOT of quotes here ;) so make sure to scroll to the bottom for the discussion question! And does anyone want to do another guest post before we finish at the end of next week? On Anne…or Wentworth…or life in Regency England…or the navy…or anything else applicable? 

Favorite lines/quotes:

“Sir Walter, his two daughters, and Mrs Clay, were the earliest of all their party at the rooms in the evening; and as Lady Dalrymple must be waited for, they took their station by one of the fires in the Octagon Room. But hardly were they so settled, when the door opened again, and Captain Wentworth walked in alone. Anne was the nearest to him, and making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing only to bow and pass on, but her gentle "How do you do?" brought him out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in return, in spite of the formidable father and sister in the back ground.” pg. 178

“The Musgroves are behaving like themselves, most honourably and kindly, only anxious with true parental hearts to promote their daughter's comfort. All this is much, very much in favour of their happiness; more than perhaps—” 

“He stopped. A sudden recollection seemed to occur, and to give him some taste of that emotion which was reddening Anne's cheeks and fixing her eyes on the ground. After clearing his throat, however, he proceeded thus— “…A man like him, in his situation! with a heart pierced, wounded, almost broken! Fanny Harville was a very superior creature, and his attachment to her was indeed attachment. A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not.”

Either from the consciousness, however, that his friend had recovered, or from other consciousness, he went no farther; and Anne who, in spite of the agitated voice in which the latter part had been uttered, and in spite of all the various noises of the room, the almost ceaseless slam of the door, and ceaseless buzz of persons walking through, had distinguished every word, was struck, gratified, confused, and beginning to breathe very quick, and feel an hundred things in a moment.” pg. 179-180

“The last hours were certainly very painful,” replied Anne; “but when pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure. One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it…” pg. 180-181

“Their interesting, almost too interesting conversation must be broken up for a time, but slight was the penance compared with the happiness which brought it on! She had learnt, in the last ten minutes, more of his feelings towards Louisa, more of all his feelings than she dared to think of; and she gave herself up to the demands of the party, to the needful civilities of the moment, with exquisite, though agitated sensations. She was in good humour with all. She had received ideas which disposed her to be courteous and kind to all, and to pity every one, as being less happy than herself.” pg. 181

“Anne saw nothing, thought nothing of the brilliancy of the room. Her happiness was from within. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks glowed; but she knew nothing about it. She was thinking only of the last half hour, and as they passed to their seats, her mind took a hasty range over it. His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only one light. His opinion of Louisa Musgrove's inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment; sentences begun which he could not finish, his half averted eyes and more than half expressive glance, all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least; that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard, but by the tenderness of the past. Yes, some share of the tenderness of the past. She could not contemplate the change as implying less. He must love her. 

“These were thoughts, with their attendant visions, which occupied and flurried her too much to leave her any power of observation…” pg 182-183

“…her attention was caught by other sounds immediately behind her, which rendered every thing else trivial. Her father and Lady Dalrymple were speaking. “A well-looking man,” said Sir Walter, “a very well-looking man.” “A very fine young man indeed!” said Lady Dalrymple. “More air than one often sees in Bath. Irish, I dare say.” “No, I just know his name. A bowing acquaintance. Wentworth; Captain Wentworth of the navy. His sister married my tenant in Somersetshire, the Croft, who rents Kellynch.” pg. 185

“Jealousy of Mr Elliot! It was the only intelligible motive. Captain Wentworth jealous of her affection! Could she have believed it a week ago; three hours ago! For a moment the gratification was exquisite.” pg. 187

Possible discussion question/s:

~ Captain Wentworth says about the accident at Lyme: “I had been too deeply concerned in the mischief to be soon at peace. It had been my doing, solely mine. She would not have been obstinate if I had not been weak.” What do you think of his impressive assumption of responsibility?


  1. Lovely chapter. Anne suddenly realizes that her open feelings and love is perhaps a mutual sensation. Oh boy, it gives me the tingles! As to your question,

    I believe personal responsibility is one of the most honorable traits a man can posess. A selfish or weak person will always look for people to place the blame on. A truly strong man can bear full responsibility for his actions, and sometimes, for the actions of others as well. Personally, I think this was the most endearing comment made my Captain Wentworth so far!

    1. Susanna,
      Isn't it just delicious??? And oh, good! I was SO excited to hear about the tingles. ;)

      And in describing assumption of responsibility being an honorable trait---defining a true man---you hit the nail on the head. Most excellently put!

  2. I finally am realizing the Louisa/Captain Benwick attraction is being contrasted to the Anne/Wentworth attraction.

    I was somewhat confused by Anne's thoughts in this chapter. I can imagine her excitement as their relationship begins to return to a more normal tone and there is the possibility in the future of a returning affection but I did not understand, from Captain Wentworth conversation, how on earth she jumped to the conclusion that he loved her? While his comments were more forthcoming and kind, I did not expect, especially from our measured, sedate Anne, such a leap.

    As for the Lyme occurrence, I think Wentworth was perhaps using his relationship with Louisa to punish Anne for her rejection of him years ago and, because of the tragedy, realized his selfishness and misguided actions, and took responsibility for them. It certainly explains his anguish over the situation (which at the time looks like an deep attachment to Louisa). Very well done by Austen.

    1. Cleopatra,
      I don't think I picked that up particularly on some of my first reads either (about Benwick/Louisa and Anne/Wentworth). I'm still trying to figure out some of the different parallels/contrasts with it, but it's pretty interesting.

      As for Anne's reading of the situation: from what I've gathered, in Austen's day a man wouldn't talk that explicitly about heart matters to a woman unless they had a very close friendship or a prior understanding. So in speaking so, he's basically opening up the past. I think the key to her jump comes from his line here about Benwick: "A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman. He ought not; he does not." To unpack it, he's really saying he hasn't recovered from his heart devotion to Anne. Did that all make some sense?

      And about're right! Austen manages it all so excellently well. :)

    2. I agree that two proper people in that day, who are out in public and not, say, walking alone on a gravel walk or off in the corner of a sitting room, would not speak to each other of their own emotions.

      Also, at this point in the book, I don't think either of them are quite ready to speak of love and affection to each other, anyway -- neither is quite sure of the other's feelings, and they're both fearing that saying, "I still love you. Do you still love me?" could receive a negative answer.

      So Wentworth brings up the subject sideways, by making his feelings about recovering from past attachments known while talking about other people. He can talk about a first, strong attachment regarding Captain Benwick, when Anne (and we) knows full well he had such an attachment to herself. He says he thinks they can't or shouldn't be gotten over -- in effect telling her that he himself hasn't and couldn't get over her, but obliquely. Just in case she's actually interested in that Mr. Elliot guy after all.

      That's my take, anyway.

  3. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. This chapter.

    Okay, to answer your question, I think Wentworth's assumption of responsibility has a lot to do with his being a naval captain. Who is, in the end, responsible for the actions of every man on a ship's crew? The captain. And who would make a good captain but a man who is ready, willing, and able to do so? Also, I love that he's learning to see himself clearly -- that his encouraging her to insist on having her own way caused her to be foolish and fall. He told her that initially because he was convinced that's why Anne had given him up, but he sees now that knowing when to change your mind is much more important than never changing it.

    You've pretty will posted all my favorite lines, but I'd like to highlight one that gets a little lost in a bigger passage: "Her happiness was from within." Doesn't that sum Anne up so well? She is so complete in and of herself -- her sorrows and joys come from inside herself. She's not dependent on people to instigate emotions for her, she contains them already.

    1. Hamlette,
      Great point!! Oh, I love how that ties together with his being a captain. You know, (whisper about this), but here's a reason I'm so glad to have been doing this read-along: while I've always loved CW, I've kind of had internal battles with myself over time about whether or not he's a strong hero. In some ways I've just loved him through for who he is, but then at other times I'd get so frustrated at his weak points. And this time around I've started noticing just how much all of his development ties together into the main themes and also how strong he really is -- in his life experiences and in things like his shouldering of responsibility here. So I'm SO happy that I can now be firmly settled in my mind about just why it is I love him so much!!!!! Very happy, indeed!!!!!!!!

      P.S. And yes, that's a beautiful point on Anne! :)

    2. I think that his holding a grudge against Anne for those 8 years kind of turns a lot of people off. To me it says he is not a person who does anything halfway. When he loves, he loves wholeheartedly. When he's heartbroken, he's 100% heartbroken. The longevity of his anger over the broken engagement shows the depth of his love.

      And then, to let go of that grudge, to accept Anne as an acquaintance, and to even allow himself to fall back in love with he -- that shows a great strength of will and mind, too. It's much easier to cling to a grudge than to let it go.

      All of which is to say, yes. Loves him muchly. Glad you can do so guilt-free now too!


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!