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Written by Robbin
(10/19/2005 6:51 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The Admiral's attitude toward ladies, penned by Jenny Allan
Like Anne, I find Admiral Croft irresistible. I think goodness of heart need not be explained, but when Anne says “simplicity of character” I believe she means “open and honest” as in there is no subterfuge in him. I do agree the Admiral is a devoted husband who loves his wife dearly and understands she is an intelligent and rational creature which his actions and speech confirm over and again. The Admiral’s respect for his wife is indeed very great; she is the model with which all others are compared. The comment “if they were all Sophys,” I feel, is a compliment to his wife’s character—if all young ladies had the superior qualities of Sophy he would not be forgetting their Christian name, hence—he never has trouble remembering Anne’s name because she is impressed upon him as a superior lady like his Sophy. I think the Admiral is a little bit like a fish out of water. He walks though Bath but shows little interest in the ways of the landlubbers unless it can be attached in some way to one of his passions, his wife or the Navy. For example, the print of the boat in the print shop window in Chapter 18. He studies the print not for beauty in color, form, or perspective but as a horribly inadequate vessel and he is much distracted by it at the beginning of his conversation with Anne until finally exclaiming “Lord! what a boat it is!” I see Admiral Croft as very firm in his decisions and direct in his actions just as you would expect someone of his rank to be: Evaluate your options, make a decision, and follow through. He is at heart a man of action.
“He has a difficult time relating to any experience or sensation that is not exactly like his own” is a good observation Jenny Allan, but I would like to redeem the Admiral a bit, at least on the subject of courtship—mostly Frederick’s courtship because the Admiral is sadly without some pertinent facts when evaluating Frederick’s progress. When the Admiral says “I wish Frederick would spread a little more canvas, and bring us home one of these young ladies to Kellynch.” in Chapter 10 and then later in Chapter 18, “The only wonder was, what they could be waiting for.” I think he is only wondering why it is taking Frederick so long to choose between the ladies and then do the deed because he knows Frederick to be much like himself and I can see his point. First Frederick dawdles over choosing between Henrietta and Louisa. How many weeks does it take to decide which one is more pleasing, after all? After Louisa persuades Henrietta to step out, Frederick happily continues his attentions to Louisa but then no further. To those on the outside looking in it appears that he has chosen between them and is courting Louisa as the Admiral says in Chapter 18, “week after week” so why should not the Admiral ask “what should they be waiting for.” What the Admiral does not know is that Frederick, usually quick and to the point, is very muddled. The Admiral has no idea what havoc the presence of Anne Elliot creates for Frederick and is the reason, I believe, that he cannot come to any decisions at all.
When speaking of his own courtship in Chapter 10, “and what were we to wait for besides?” I do not think he means he snapped her up because she was a pretty girl and that is all he needed to know but that they have met, liked what they saw, and who could object if they act upon it full sail. That does not sound very romantic but I think it is—to be so sure in your passions so quickly suggests a very intense experience and reminds me of another such romance. I do not see the Admiral finding Sophie as the luck of the draw because they both admit to knowing of each other before they actually meet. I like to speculate that they may have had preconceived notions due to second hand knowledge and perhaps even encouragement from friends and who knows that it did not give them a little fever to meet each other. I can easily believe Sophy as bewitched with a young and dashing Admiral Croft just as Anne was with Captain Wentworth in Chapter 4, “Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth, and bewitching in the wit which often expressed it, must have been enough for Anne.” I view the Crofts courtship as a quick intense fire that burned down a little but never out and they are now contented happy soul mates. They are an older and wiser Anne and Frederick. Both men are of the naval profession with open direct ardent characters and both women are sensible, intelligent, with open-hearted loving natures. Both couples meet and in a short time are in love and then engaged the only difference is that the Crofts married and Anne was persuaded to break hers instead of cherish it. Perhaps Anne and Frederick do not come to an understanding as quickly as the Crofts hint that they did in Chapter 10, but I do think it was quick, in Chapter 4 we find that, “A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance.” Captain Wentworth’s unwillingness to credit Lady Russell’s concerns, his inconsolable disappointment and anger towards Anne for the breaking of their engagement is a little more understandable if you consider that he understood what she was giving up for he had the nice example of his sister’s happy marriage—both the short making of it and it’s continued felicity. Seven years later Anne also learns to appreciate the Crofts and she is enamored of them and I think she is meant to be. It says in Chapter 18, “She always watched them as long as she could” and well she should for they are a repudiation of any lingering concerns Lady Russell persuaded her into embracing seven years before. They are proof that a love and marriage quickly formed can be successful. They are in every way opposite from her parent’s marriage and hold dear everything she would hope for herself.
“They brought with them their country habit of being almost always together. He was ordered to walk to keep off the gout, and Mrs. Croft seemed to go shares with him in everything, and to walk for her life to do him good. Anne saw them wherever she went. Lady Russell took her out in her carriage almost every morning, and she never failed to think of them, and never failed to see them. Knowing their feelings as she did, it was a most attractive picture of happiness to her. She always watched them as long as she could, delighted to fancy she understood what they might be talking of, as they walked along in happy independence, or equally delighted to see the Admiral's hearty shake of the hand when he encountered an old friend, and observe their eagerness of conversation when occasionally forming into a little knot of the navy, Mrs. Croft looking as intelligent and keen as any of the officers around her.” (Chapter 18)
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