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|The Power of Persuasion , Responsibility and LR & Anne
Written by BarbaraB
(9/25/2005 10:24 p.m.)
Whether or not a person likes Lady R or not, I don't think anyone could disagree with the fact that she gives Anne advise on her engagement to Wentworth. It would be expected of any mother, real or stand-in. It would be considered remiss not to have had the pitfalls pointed out to Anne by anyone who cared. The problem, as far as I'm concerned, is that Lady R. did not leave it at that. There is a difference between advice and pressure. "...but Lady Russell, whom she had always loved and relied on could not with such *steadiness of opinion* and such tenderness of manner, *be continually advising her in vain."* In my opinion, the highlighted words indicate that LR put pressure on Anne to give up her beloved. It wasn't something that she just immediately caved in to...
Good parents for the most part try to raise their kids as best they can hoping to infuse them with a good moral fiber, ethics and some spirtuality to provide them with the tools and skills to navigate the obstacles of life. We're trepidatious at best as they leave the coop. We know there are wolves hiding in the bushes as they make their way along the footpath. So, yes, we continue to advise, hopefully without being too pushy: "But what if..."; "Have you considered that..."; "Have you thought about the possibility of....", etc.
Anne was and still is a sensible person and she was brought up well. LR knows this well enough because she was part of the process. Anne should have been allowed to say to herself: 'Okay, here are the benefits or pluses for me if I marry FW.... and then: but what if he never does well financially? What if he dies and I am left with children? What would my options be under any negative set of circumstances? What funds would I have of my own? Would there be family and friends enough to help me or any children I might have or take me/us in with them?, etc. It might have worked out fine. It might not have worked. However, once Anne had taken the pros and cons into consideration, the risk should have been hers to take if she chose.
Another thing is that along with the power of persuasion comes responsibility. There is a gentleman in our neighborhood whose son did not perform well in his freshman year away at college. His father decided he would go into the Army. (I'm assuming he considered this to be a consequence for not doing well and "it will make him a man of him" kind of thing.) This is not what his son wanted to do. If I remember correctly, he wanted to get a job and/or give school another try but was pressured into the Army anyway and the next thing you know, he was sent to Iraq. Now the father is anxious and complaining. Well... So far, so good. Heaven forbid, but what if his son comes home disabled? Or worse, what if he doesn't come back? I see people giving into things like family pressure to drive/fly hundreds of miles sometimes to attend Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas celebrations, this or that. They give in because 'they don't want to hear it' or possibly suffer censure that could last months/years down the road for not showing up. What if something happened on the way?
Now obviously there are exceptions to most things. If someone is out on the tenth floor ledge of a building... If your 80 year old father with vision issues is cruising around in his red convertible...
Personally, I don't think LR likes Wentworth. If he showed up with hundred-dollar bills (or whatever the equivalent denomination would be) sticking out of his ears and falling out of stuffed pockets she would try to dissuade Anne from the engagement though more likely without success. Nay, she still would not have considered him a good enough match because he does not suit *her* idea of what would be good for Anne. I can't quite put my finger on it but there's something about this that bothers me.
Anne seems most regretful and appears to be almost pining away. Imagine twenty years from now with possibly LR gone, maybe her father, with noone around to love or appreciate her remembering the chance she could have had. Sir Walter and Elizabeth don't strike me as the kind of people who will return to Kellynch determined to observe moderation and method. They turned that idea down flat-out as something not to ever be considered, hence the letting of their home and removing to Bath. What then, if there is another relapse of his financial situation? What if he is sunk entirely the next time? There might not be a LR or Mr. Sheperd around to make things right. What if something happens to Sir Walter before his debts are resolved. Could the possible suffering that Anne might go through as a result of any of these or any other unforseen possibilities be any worse than those she had to comtemplate if she had kept her engagement? Maybe, maybe not. And, indeed, some risks are greater than others. The point is, most of the major decisions we make in life are paved with 'what ifs' and risks. In my opinion, any sensible person should be the judge of what risks they are willing to take and accept the responsibility of it. This might go against the common consensus but this is what I would have liked to have seen for Anne, the right to have made her decision without any pressure.
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