Saturday, February 21, 2015

Persuasion Read-Along: Chapter 21

This chapter is long…the longest in the book. (And…we have two wonderful chapters coming up next—both entirely rich, splendid, and wonderful!!!!!!! ;)) But wait, let us collect ourselves.

At the moment, we’ve come to the revelation of Mr. Elliot’s schemes and infamy. A lot of his misdemeanors (or far worse) are merely hinted at, but I was thinking about how his treatment of Mrs. Smith alone is really hugely reprehensible. Biblically speaking, there are strong injunctions against such injustice; God does not look favorably on those who mistreat widows and orphans. 

I got thinking about quite a few more things in here, too, but I decided to save some of the points for a huge post I’m writing up on Wentworth and Anne (hopefully to be posted the first week of March after we’re ‘officially’ finished). I’m also planning a giveaway for that week so there’s lots of excitement in store!

Favorite lines/quotes:

“There was much to regret. How she might have felt had there been no Captain Wentworth in the case, was not worth enquiry; for there was a Captain Wentworth; and be the conclusion of the present suspense good or bad, her affection would be his for ever. Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation.” pg. 188

“Anne half smiled and said, “Do you see that in my eye?” “Yes, I do. Your countenance perfectly informs me that you were in company last night with the person whom you think the most agreeable in the world, the person who interests you at this present time more than all the rest of the world put together.” pg. 190

“I have not known him (Mr. Elliot) long; and he is not a man, I think, to be known intimately soon. …I assure you, Mr. Elliot had not the share which you have been supposing, in whatever pleasure the concert of last night might afford: not Mr. Elliot; it is not Mr. Elliot that—” She stopped, regretting with a deep blush that she had implied so much; but less would hardly have been sufficient. Mrs. Smith would hardly have believed so soon in Mr. Elliot’s failure, but from the perception of there being a somebody else. As it was, she instantly submitted, and with all the semblance of seeing nothing beyond…” pg. 192-193

“What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!” pg. 197

Possible discussion question/s:

~ Does Mr. Elliot strike you as a deep dyed villain? Why or why not?


  1. Mr. Elliot is certainly selfish and cruel, however he did not strike me as quite as evil as Jane Austen's other male antagonists. In a lot of ways, he is very similar to Anne's father and elder sisters. All of them worry mostly about their own happiness and social advancement more than anything else. Sorry... perhaps I am being to harsh.

    1. Susanna,
      No, I think you're right. Part of it, too, is that everything is so understated (even for Austen). Reading between the lines (and with a few more upcoming details), we can gather that he does have certain vices and definitely exhibits licentious behavior. But I think the understatement Austen chooses to employ with him actually fits together with part of the whole overarching theme of Persuasion (and really, all of her work as a whole): how to rightly discern people---discern character---in real life. Not everyone is going to be easy to read/show forth in flashing colors. What do you think?

  2. Mr. Elliot strikes me more as a Henry Crawford than a Wickham, for instance. He's self-centered and cares little for anyone else, but he's not actively trying to ruin or debauch Anne.

    Sometimes I think Mrs. Smith knowing all this about Mr. Elliot is a little too convenient, but then, Austen uses convenient pre-existing relationships in other books too. Mr. Darcy knows Wickham's true nature, Col. Brandon knows the truth about Willoughby, etc.

    At the very end of the chapter, Anne acknowledges "It was just possible that she might have been persuaded by Lady Russell" to marry Mr. Elliot. I feel like right here is where she realizes once and for all that she needs to rely less on the opinions of others, especially Lady Russell. You?

    1. Hamlette,
      I agree! I was actually thinking of Crawford, too....

      And about Mrs. Smith: I've felt that as well and I think part of the reason is that she (and her sub-plot) are a pretty late arrival in the story (versus Darcy and Brandon who are in it from early on). Plotwise there doesn't seem much else Austen could have done, though, since Anne isn't even in Bath till over half-way through. Elliot himself comes in halfway through (though he's mentioned and hinted at from the first page, which brings him in a bit more).

      And about Anne. Yes..... I've wondered about that. I wonder if she's thinking in past or present terms? Thinking that she could have been persuaded if CW had ended up marrying Louisa? (Rather like Fanny potentially marrying Crawford if Edmund had married Mary.) It's kind of an interesting line from our strong Anne. Way back in Chapter 17 (before she heard about Louisa's engagement to Benwick) she says her feelings were "still adverse to any man save one." And here she's saying there's just a chance she might have been persuaded. I guess sometimes we tend to think of strength as being a "make it or break it" quality whereas Biblical strength is in knowing our weaknesses---which seems to be what Anne's realizing. Your thoughts?

    2. I think you're right, that the timing of Mrs. Smith's entrance makes it feel more serendipitous than the others. We also can't forget that Austen didn't get a chance to revise this they way she did her other novels. She may have planned to mention Mrs. Smith much earlier or something -- who knows

      I think that yeah, Anne is mostly thinking that she had started being persuaded to consider marrying Mr. Elliot, until the news arrived of Louisa being engaged to Capt. Benwick. Her feelings were adverse, but she did find Mr. Elliot very agreeable and behave pretty favorably toward him, receiving his attentions instead of rebuffing him.

      Good point about recognizing your weaknesses being a sign of true strength. Kind of how Anne's ability to give up the man she loved showed she was stronger than if she had stubbornly insisted on marrying him despite the disapproval of her family and friends.


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!