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|Anne, Being Seen & Her Society (long)
Written by Robbin
(9/23/2005 6:01 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Showing Anne the world: A plot hole?, penned by Maisy
I would not only like to explore if LR may have been remiss in not ensuring Anne is seen by more than their neighborhood society but also that others bear a closer examination on this subject and then lastly, to try and draw a clearer picture of exactly how much society Anne may have had access to between the time that CW leaves in a huff and she finds out that the opportunity to meet him again is increased almost to a certainty by the imminent leasing of Kellynch and his sister being the wife of the tenant.
“A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but, not with a few months ended Anne's share of suffering from it. Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth; and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect.” (Chapter 4)
Anne bears some responsibility in “not being seen.” From the above paragraph we can see that she was not in spirits for a time and very well could have been reluctant to socialize after the loss of CW and in the quote below it says “she (Anne) has been too dependent on time alone.” Does this mean she wants to be alone or time is her only remedy? At first I thought it meant to be alone, but after rereading it several times it is probably that she feels time will be the remedy. In this instance though, I feel safe enough to speculate that a young person so exquisitely in love and then so suddenly and purposefully without the object would seek some solace in being alone and avoid society on occasion.
“More than seven years were gone since this little history of sorrowful interest had reached its close; and time had softened down much, perhaps nearly all of peculiar attachment to him, but she had been too dependant on time alone: no aid had been given in change of place, (except in one visit to Bath soon after the rupture), or in any novelty or enlargement of society.” (Chapter 4)
The comment above seems to eliminate that Lady Russell took Anne on trips outside of their neighborhood, excepting the one trip to Bath. The trip to Bath does not appear to have been successful in diverting Anne from her regrets and suffering. Its only lasting effect that we know of is that Anne decidedly does not like Bath. I seems that as LR does enjoy Bath she may have asked Anne and been refused. However, I think LR probably helped, or at least tried, to keep her active in their neighborhood. I can envision LR making herself useful to her friend by day trips and social calls to visit people in their neighborhood that it was considered too far to walk easily, perhaps to visit the ladies at Uppercross for Anne must have been part of their society to some extent for Charles Musgrove to like her well enough to make an offer for her. I do not have the idea that LR left Anne to stew around Kellynch Hall by herself all the time. We are told in Chapter 1 that Elizabeth…
“For thirteen years had she been doing the honours, and laying down the domestic law at home, and leading the way to the chaise-and-four; walking immediately after Lady Russell out of all the drawing-rooms and dining-rooms in the country. Thirteen winters' revolving frosts had seen her opening every ball of credit which a scanty neighbourhood afforded, and thirteen springs shewn their blossoms, as she travelled up to London with her father, for a few weeks annual enjoyment of the great world. ” (Chapter 1)
I am fairly confident that for most of those 13 years Anne walked behind Elizabeth out of all the drawing-rooms and dining-rooms in the country for she would have been invited as well as her sister. Elizabeth could not have minded for surly Anne could not require as many new dresses as herself and she would appear even more elegant in comparison with her who has lost her bloom and become thin. More seriously, I think that if Anne was not participating in these ordinary social occasions we would have been told by JA. From the passages describing Elizabeth’s lot it seems that the Elliot’s were snootily a regular part of the local society which provided a “ball of credit” every now and then. Of course I do not give Anne a share of any snootiness that may have been seen. I would not even put it past Sir Walter or Elizabeth to demand that Anne show up even if she did not want to in case someone might suspect she was pining for a recently departed Navy man—however this is just rank speculation.
Such were Elizabeth Elliot's sentiments and sensations; such the cares to alloy, the agitations to vary, the sameness and the elegance, the prosperity and the nothingness of her scene of life; such the feelings to give interest to a long, uneventful residence in one country circle, to fill the vacancies which there were no habits of utility abroad, no talents or accomplishments for home, to occupy.” (Chapter 1)
Again, I see something to learn about Anne by looking at Elizabeth’s situation as explained in Chapter 1. JA does not say directly that Sir Walter and Elizabeth never went anywhere else besides London, but it does say “the sameness…nothingness…to a long, uneventful residence in one country circle” which does not lend itself to an easy acceptance of the existence of unmentioned trips of the expensive nature that I would expect SW and EE to consider their due. Based on this, I think it is reasonable to conclude that besides the annual trips to London, Elizabeth’s life was just as physically and socially restricted as Anne’s, if not more—for Anne may have one small advantage over EE in her friendship with LR. EE does not seem as likely as Anne to be out and about the countryside with LR. I think this because of how EE’s treatment of LR is described in Chapter 2, “…she (LR) had never received from her(EE) more than outward attention, nothing beyond the observances of complaisance;” In addition, EE’s own consciousness of her importance in local society might keep her at home, even more than Anne, as she might feel it appropriate to let “those who deserve it” visit herself and SW at Kellynch Hall.
I keep Sir Walter and Elizabeth together in most of these speculations because EE will not be traveling alone and is unlikely to travel with LR and there are no other possible candidates that we know of at this point with which EE could travel and have an opportunity to exclude Anne. After thinking about Anne, and then EE to try to find clues about Anne, I thought that SW does not seem to be the type of person who would limit himself to a smaller society and might very well go places alone. I do not imagine that he would feel the need to always have EE with him for he has already done his best for her by “remaining single for his dear daughter's sake” (Chapter 1) and if not to have EE, I am sure Anne would not even be thought of as existing. The only evidence I have for mysterious solitary trips by SW is from Chapter 2, please note that he says “journeys” separate from “London” and not “journeys to London.”
“How Anne's more rigid requisitions might have been taken is of little consequence. Lady Russell's had no success at all: could not be put up with, were not to be borne. "What! Every comfort of life knocked off! Journeys, London, servants, horses, table, -- contractions and restrictions every where. To live no longer with the decencies even of a private gentleman! No, he would sooner quit Kellynch Hall at once, than remain in it on such disgraceful terms."
Anne and a penchant for being alone (for a time) may have contributed to her not being seen enough in the wide word and perhaps, a speculation, that she may have turned down invitations from LR for Bath or other places--maybe. I do not think there can be any other blame for Anne for as I saw in some of JA’s letters (last GR) Anne has limited to no resources in this area. She stays where she is until she is invited to visit someone or someone respectable and known takes her and even then she depends of on Sir Walter to finance travel or someone to gift it.
Lady Russell, as god mother and intimate friend of Lady Elliot, Sir Walter and Anne, has responsibility to Anne in this matter. Mostly because of the reliance laid upon her by Lady Elliot at her death. In this case, poor LR may be abused too much for we know she did take Anne on the miserable trip to Bath and I highly suspect LR of much local activity in usefulness to Anne and we know she counseled both SW and EE to take Anne with them to London. I think LR, besides Anne, deserves the least condemnation for perhaps not actually getting Anne out of Dodge occasionally—although I am half certain that she probably did try.
Elizabeth is a horrible sister for she not only is cold to Anne but she really does not even do her duty with regards to a younger sister. With their mother gone, as Anne’s older sister and her father’s appointed mistress of the house and family, Elizabeth owes a duty to her younger sister in the charge of procuring, as best she may, opportunities for Anne to be seen and hopefully make an appropriate match. Elizabeth does not do this, most likely due to her own single state and selfishness.
Sir Walter is of course, I believe, most at fault because although this may normally be the providence of ladies, he should take more interest since his wife, her mother is deceased. He should be concerned for Anne’s future and provide opportunities to be seen and include her as well as Elizabeth in any changes of society. I am afraid that I have not enough knowledge to comment on other parental duties that Sir Walter has neglected but I am positive that many have been and continue to be at the end of Chapter 4, but always neglected in a style most befitting the dignity of a baronet.
Anne participates in ordinary social activities, perhaps assisted by Lady Russell and has had a visit to Bath so I envision that Anne, at the end of Chapter 4 is leading a very quiet ordinary country life with much dependence on her good friend LR, little if any consolation from family, and a small circle of acquaintances we do not know but hinted at by the attendance of dinners and balls and surely calling on their neighbors.
Just on a side note: What possibly could Sir Walter have been at on my proposed mysterious solitary trips. He could have been at one or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications, or perhaps a visit to Tattersal’s for gambling and looking upon fine horse flesh and a slippery Mr. Elliot hiding behind a potted plant to try and block himself from Sir Walter’s view or at the House of Commons to chase after Mr. Elliot on behalf of Elizabeth! Maybe he really would do almost anything for her? More likely though, he was probably in town, standing beside friends near Sir Basil Moreley who is able to clarify the identity and exact age of persons of obscure birth in possession of undue distinction who have unknowingly become an object of disgust to Sir Walter Elliot—who is, in effect a Mall People Watcher.
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