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|Anne and friends/family that might have
Written by Jenny Allan
(10/4/2005 12:29 p.m.)
One of Anne's chief regrets in the novel is for the family and friends that she might have had, if she had married FW. From our first hearing of the Crofts, the casual way in which they are dismissed by Sir Walter by their connection to the precious name of Wentworth (A mere curate. A nothing.), we are signaled that this is a family of warmth and kindness by virute of their being dismissed out of hand, just as Anne is. Shepard's half remembered anecdote about Edward Wentworth curiously coming to a compromise with the apple thief show that this is a man who lives his Christian beliefs rather than just preach them.
When we are actually introduced to the Crofts at Uppercross cottage the Admiral entertains Mary's unruly children in a warm and grandfatherly way, while Mrs. Croft shows herself to be sensible and kind: "Anne gave her credit, indeed, for feelings of great consideration towards herself, in all that related to Kellynch, and it pleased her."
The next time we meet the Crofts in Chapter 8, we begin to see by degrees the love and equality in their marraige: The Admiral, after taking two or three refreshing turns about the room with his hands behind him, being called to order by his wife, now came up to Captain Wentworth, and without any observation of what he might be interrupting, thinking only of his own thoughts...
I love this picture of the Admiral absent-mindedly pacing and his wife 'calling him to order."
This is followed later in the chapter by discussion on board ship, in which we see the ease, love and gentle humor between the Admiral, Sophie and Frederick.
By the time Anne partakes in the hilarious gig ride and perceives that Mrs. Croft must guide the admiral through life in the same way she keeps them from "running afoul of a dung cart" in the gig, it is clear that this is a couple Anne would very much like to find herself related to.
When in Lyme and Anne occasions to meet the Harvilles and Benwick and again witnesses the warmth and familiarity there, she indulges herself, "these would all have been my friends." That she might have had Sophie Croft as a sister to lessen the pain of Elizabeth and Mary, that she might have been part of this extended naval family, that would have welcomed her as heartily as the Musgroves, whether or not she could be useful to them must be apparent to Anne and the reader.
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