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|Fever of admiration + a fool indeed = a dead young lady!
Written by Robbin
(10/7/2005 5:37 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, "Fever of admiration", penned by Cheryl
“Yes, here I am, Sophia, quite ready to make a foolish match. Anybody between fifteen and thirty may have me for asking. A little beauty, and a few smiles, and a few compliments to the Navy, and I am a lost man…Anne Elliot was not out of his thoughts, when he more seriously described the woman he should wish to meet with. "A strong mind, with sweetness of manner," made the first and the last of the description. "This is the woman I want," said he. "Something a little inferior I shall of course put up with, but it must not be much. If I am a fool, I shall be a fool indeed, for I have thought on the subject more than most men." (Chapter 7)
I think he does raise their expectations and it is really a wrong thing because I think they are too inexperienced to correctly interpret his pleasure in being fawned over. They are “…living to be fashionable, happy, and merry. Their dress had every advantage, their faces were rather pretty, their spirits extremely good, their manners unembarrassed and pleasant…” (Chapter 5) Henrietta and Louisa are not equipped to make Captain Wentworth really happy, they possess only the “usual stock of accomplishments,” which I take to mean that they can read and write and do basic arithmetic but are more accomplished in traditional feminine activities such as sewing, music, dancing, etc. They strike me as slightly spoilt, naďve and trusting girls who are neither overly intelligent nor mature beyond their years. I do not think either of them meets the requirements of a strong mind---in the likes of Anne Elliot anyway. Henrietta is indecisive even though she has apparently had a strong enough attachment to Charles Hayter to talk of marriage and Louisa is stubborn and a little too malleable because I think she tries to show Captain Wentworth that she does indeed cherish all her present powers of mind that he so eagerly admired on the long walk in Chapter 10. After the fall, with encouragement and attention from Captain Benwick and maybe by the courtesy of that bump on the head, she becomes an avid reader of poetry and engaged to a rather tragic young man.
“As to Captain Wentworth's views, she deemed it of more consequence that he should know his own mind early enough not to be endangering the happiness of either sister, or impeaching his own honour, than that he should prefer Henrietta to Louisa, or Louisa to Henrietta. Either of them would, in all probability, make him an affectionate, good-humoured wife.” (Chapter 9) & “and as for Henrietta and Louisa, they both seemed so entirely occupied by him, that nothing but the continued appearance of the most perfect good-will between themselves could have made it credible that they were not decided rivals. If he were a little spoilt by such universal, such eager admiration, who could wonder?” (Chapter 8)
I think Captain Wentworth feels (just a little) that he deserves this fuss and is very pleased to get it. “Should not this be enough for a sailor, who has had no society among women to make him nice?" He said it, she knew, to be contradicted. His bright, proud eye spoke the happy conviction that he was nice.” Begging a compliment, oh dear, it speaks of a wounded pride, I think and excessive attention is probably a very soothing balm for it, especially when the offender is right before your eyes. But he is wrong to accept attention from both because it is not just neighborly or even over friendly social attention he is receiving but a “fever of admiration” which suggests that both of the girls are in a state of delirious excitement—they are not being cautious. I cannot say I blame them—a real, live, handsome, authentic swashbuckling hero has unexpectedly arrived in their mists and it is no wonder that they are quickly infatuated. I almost would think it a wonder if they were not. I cannot but think their mother should have cautioned them, if not because of any worries about indiscretion, but at least with the concern that one of them may be very hurt and their relationship might suffer because of it, in Chapter 9— “Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove, either from seeing little, or from an entire confidence in the discretion of both their daughters, and of all the young men who came near them, seemed to leave everything to take its chance.”
“It was now his object to marry. He was rich, and being turned on shore, fully intended to settle as soon as he could be properly tempted; actually looking round, ready to fall in love with all the speed which a clear head and quick taste could allow. He had a heart for either of the Miss Musgroves, if they could catch it; a heart, in short, for any pleasing young woman who came in his way, excepting Anne Elliot.” (Chapter 7)
Captain Wentworth’s behavior is also remiss because of who he is—an older, educated, traveled, dynamic, successful, and rich gentleman. He is a man who should know what he wants, after all, he has commanded hundreds of men, leading them across the world and home again safely, made his fortune though the capture of enemy ships, probably not without some dangerous action. He should know what he wants, but he does not know or he cannot or will not recognize it when it stands before him or he would never encourage two obviously infatuated young ladies at once. Would not it be wrong if he just encouraged one infatuated young lady that he has no real feelings for? He is actually letting them take the lead and encouraging them to “catch” him. Is this not just a little backwards, should he not choose one of them and then focus on her—he would if he really cared. He actually never does choose between them and Louisa eventually takes it upon herself to persuade Henrietta to step out. I think he just cannot see how he affects the girls, he enjoys their attentions, but I really believe, for the most part and perhaps unconsciously, he is really more observant of Anne.
“at the Cottage: the young couple there were more disposed to speculate and wonder; and Captain Wentworth had not been above four or five times in the Miss Musgroves' company, and Charles Hayter had but just reappeared, when Anne had to listen to the opinions of her brother and sister, as to which was the one liked best. Charles gave it for Louisa, Mary for Henrietta, but quite agreeing that to have him marry either would be extremely delightful.” & “He certainly means to have one or other of those two girls, Sophy," said the Admiral; "but there is no saying which. He has been running after them, too, long enough, one would think, to make up his mind…I wish Frederick would spread a little more canvas, and bring us home one of these young ladies to Kellynch. Then there would always be company for them. And very nice young ladies they both are; I hardly know one from the other." (Chapter 10)
Up until the end of the long walk, Captain Wentworth does not have a higher regard for either Henrietta or Louisa, so it would be a surprise to him that anyone would be speculating on his marrying one of them. At this time I think he really is only guilty of accepting their too exuberant attentions, but Louisa’s story of persuading Henrietta to do the right thing with regards to Charles Hayter incites him to speak too warmly and too frankly to Louisa about the evils of a mind persuaded—the very means of his personal tragedy--“My first wish for all whom I am interested in, is that they should be firm. If Louisa Musgrove would be beautiful and happy in her November of life, she will cherish all her present powers of mind.” (Chapter 10) Louisa cannot even answer this speech but she must feel much singled out by it. At Lyme he does start to show a preference for her, IMO, by taking her for an early morning walk with no chaperone—I would have thought that to be improper but maybe no one says anything because they are so sure they will be soon engaged. The fact that others might think this and have been speculating on who he will choose shows that both the girls attentions to him and his enjoyment of them has been fairly blatant, but I cannot blame the girls so much because they are young and immature but he should have given more thought to what was going on. I do think he should have been more circumspect; in a larger society it might have been the fodder for some highly entertaining gossip.
“She did not attribute guile to any. It was the highest satisfaction to her to believe Captain Wentworth not in the least aware of the pain he was occasioning. There was no triumph, no pitiful triumph in his manner.” (Chapter 10)
It pleases Anne to think that he does wrong without knowing it and perhaps that is true towards Henrietta and Louisa, but I am not so sure with regards to her and some of that “pitiful triumph.” Anne is the person best able to judge what he is feeling with any accuracy because of their past and when she thinks “Captain Wentworth was not in love with either” she is perfectly right, but I also think she always gives him the benefit of the doubt when making any judgment about him. It was exactly the same when she accepted his proposal. Anne has always believed in him, he is right, until it is proven otherwise—she is still unconditionally loyal to him although fundamentally he is the one who betrayed her seven years ago by not believing her: “for she had to encounter all the additional pain of opinions, on his side, totally unconvinced and unbending, and of his feeling himself ill-used by so forced a relinquishment.” (Chapter 4) He has the ability to establish a normal social relationship with Anne but he does not and each time he says something or avoids her she makes excuses for him in Chapter 7, “Altered beyond his knowledge!" Anne fully submitted, in silent, deep mortification. Doubtless it was so…She had already acknowledged it to herself, and she could not think differently, let him think of her as he would.”
“He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.” & “He had been most warmly attached to her, and had never seen a woman since whom he thought her equal; but, except from some natural sensation of curiosity, he had no desire of meeting her again. Her power with him was gone for ever.” (Chapter 7)
Captain Wentworth is still blinded by his emotions from seven years ago and it leads him to say things in a way that hurt Anne, mostly at the dinner party at Uppercross in Chapter 8 and on the long walk in Chapter 10. References to the year six, having a wife and women on ships which are kind of pointed if you know he has never forgiven Anne, which of course she is well aware. I also think it is improper of him, although he never thought it would be repeated, to tell Mary that she was "So altered that he should not have known her again!” and Mary is right that it was very ungallant of him but it would be quite wrong of him to say that about any lady to another. If he was really over Anne, he could not be so undone by her looks that he would let himself say something so cruel and then he seems most interested, the pause, to learn that Anne refused another gentleman several years later. I guess love really is blind. Almost all of the following quotes are not said directly to Anne but people know now and I am sure they knew then, that if a group is together, in the same area, that a conversation is more likely than not to be overheard by those you are not speaking to so it is prudent to mind what you say. For my part, if I was to ever say anything uncomplimentary about anyone you can be sure that unknown to me they will be standing directly behind me.
"I felt my luck, admiral, I assure you;" replied Captain Wentworth, seriously. "I was as well satisfied with my appointment as you can desire. It was a great object with me, at that time, to be at sea: a very great object; I wanted to be doing something." (Chapter 8)
"That was in the year six"; "That happened before I went to sea, in the year six," occurred in the course of the first evening they spent together: and though his voice did not falter…There must be the same immediate association of thought, though she was very far from conceiving it to be of equal pain. (Chapter 8)
“Poor Harville, sister! You know how much he wanted money: worse than myself. He had a wife. Excellent fellow! I shall never forget his happiness. He felt it all so much for her sake. I wished for him again the next summer, when I had still the same luck in the Mediterranean." (Chapter 8)
"There can be no want of gallantry, Admiral, in rating the claims of women to every personal comfort high, and this is what I do. I hate to hear of women on board, or to see them on board; and no ship, under my command, shall ever convey a family of ladies any where, if I can help it." (Chapter 8)
"I might not like them the better for that, perhaps. Such a number of women and children have no right to be comfortable on board." (Chapter 8)
“Once, too, he spoke to her…Unintentionally she returned to that part of the room; he saw her, and instantly rising, said, with studied politeness -- "I beg your pardon, madam, this is your seat"; and though she immediately drew back with a decided negative, he was not to be induced to sit down again.” (Chapter 8)
“The surprise of finding himself almost alone with Anne Elliot, deprived his manners of their usual composure: he started, and could only say, "I thought the Miss Musgroves had been here: Mrs. Musgrove told me I should find them here," before he walked to the window to recollect himself, and feel how he ought to behave.” (Chapter 9)
"Ah! You make the most of it, I know," cried Louisa; "but if it were really so, I should do just the same in her place. If I loved a man as she loves the Admiral, I would be always with him, nothing should ever separate us, and I would rather be overturned by him than driven safely by anybody else." (It was spoken with enthusiasm.) “Had you?" cried he, catching the same tone; "I honour you!" And there was silence between them for a little while.” (Chapter 10)
“…woe betide him, and her too, when it comes to things of consequence, when they are placed in circumstances requiring fortitude and strength of mind, if she have not resolution enough to resist idle interference in such a trifle as this. Your sister is an amiable creature; but yours is the character of decision and firmness, I see…It is the worst evil of too yielding and indecisive a character, that no influence over it can be depended on. You are never sure of a good impression being durable; everybody may sway it. Let those who would be happy be firm… (Chapter 10)
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