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|Captain Wentworth and Persuasion
Written by Tracy W
(10/8/2005 11:38 p.m.)
In these chapters Captain Wentworth learns a lesson. He is set up in chapter 10, when he praises Louisa for her strength of mind "Let those who would be happy be firm", and the hit happens in Chapter 12, when Louisa can't be persuaded out of jumping down the steps and has her accident. Anne wondered whether it ever occurred to him now, to question the justness of his own previous opinion as to the universal felicity and advantage of firmness of character; and whether it might not strike him that, like all other qualities of the mind, it should have its proportions and limits.
This is of course Captain Wentworth's lesson that he must learn in order to forgive Anne for being persuaded out of marrying him.
Captain Wentworth and Louisa's discussion in Chapter 10 about persuasion reminds me of a bit of Elizabeth, Bingley and Darcy's discussion in P&P (coincidentally Chapter 10 too) about persuasion - when Bingley says that if he ever resolved to "quit Netherfield he should probably be off in five minutes" (chapter 9 of P&P). One can't help think that Captain Wentworth would heartily approve of Bingley refusing any entreaties of a friend to change his mind and riding off as fast as he could.
But Captain Wentworth does point out some serious downsides to persuasion. ... 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. ...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.
Incidentally, it's nice to see Anne finally having some luck with persuasion in a time when she's not talking someone into doing something they already want to do, when she manages to talk Captain Benwick into trying some prose as well as poetry.
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