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|"Advice" as corollary to "Persuasion"
Written by Elliot
(9/22/2005 3:15 p.m.)
As I reread Chapter 4, I'm suddenly struck by one of those "I wish I knew" sensations: did Anne expect Lady Russell to be an ally in helping to promote her engagement to her family? Did she approach LR on the subject of the engagement, or did LR come to her with the advice to give Wentworth up? It may seem nitpicky to ask, but as I reread the text, I am struck anew by how much Anne's relationship to LR has changed as a result of her decision to accept LR's advice: while she does not blame herself or LR for that decision, she does regret it, and forms the resolution that "were any young person in similar circumstances to apply to her for counsel, they would never receive any of such certain immediate wretchedness, such uncertain future good".
It makes me wonder about the whole nature of advice, giving and getting, and the role of "advice" in the act of persuasion: is advice really advice if it's not asked for? Even if it is asked for, how bound should a person feel to follow advice, if following it leads to "immediate wretchedness, and uncertain future good"?
I am also struck by certain exquisite details of the narration (where the word "advice" pops up fairly frequently): Lady Russell's "continually advising" her against the match (could it be that LR didn't depend on rational persuasion, but simply badgered Anne into giving up FW?); the fact that on the subject of Charles Musgrove's proposal, LR apparently waits in vain to be consulted: "But in this case, Anne had left _nothing for advice to do_" - meaning, perhaps, that that silence they observe on the subject of the broken engagement extends to the subject of matrimony in general - Anne has quietly, but definitely, given notice to LR that her advice on that subject is no longer wanted.
And finally, that heartbreaking reflection on Providence: "How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been! how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence!"
(That would be another interesting thread for discussion - whether doubt or faith in Providence is seen as a factor in a character's future happiness? - but that's probably already been hashed out elsewhere).
OK, back to my other work...
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