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|What does she really think?
Written by Robbin
(10/24/2005 1:26 a.m.)
So I am off again on a favorite topic—I am more and more convinced that LR got rid of Captain Frederick Wentworth because she did not like him—this is one of my objects. The other is that her pride will not allow her to admit she was at least a little wrong about FW or that he is a worthy suitor for Anne now.
“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!” (Chapter 2)
Lady Russell’s support for Mr. Elliot brings to the forefront the reasons she did not approve Frederick Wentworth. I think LR’s opinion of WE also says a lot about deeper and uglier opinions of FW than was shown in Chapter 4. The gentlemen are nearly the exact opposites of each other and perfectly illustrate the difference in sensibilities between LR and Anne. LR likes people who do not make waves and Mr. Elliot with his correct opinions and compliance with worldly decorum is unlikely to do so while FW, used to running a ship and directing men is much more likely to defy decorum and cause a stir in the parlor. The character WE displays, is in Anne’s words from Chapter 17, “too generally agreeable” and some of the qualities LR admires in WE are frankly not worthy of admiration IMO and others seem to be important to LR because they are directly the opposite of FW. What follows is a breakdown of the part LR’s opinion of WE in Chapter 16 that bothers me and applicable inserts from LR’s opinion of FW from Chapter 4, both quotes are at the end of the post:
(1) Mr. Elliot: “Correct opinions” and that “he judged for himself in every thing essential, without defying public opinion in any point of worldly decorum.” If a person always has the correct opinion then can we be sure he actually has any original thoughts at all and I am not convinced you are actually judging anything if you always follow the crowd. If you believe all this, I have to ask is he a man or a sheep? (2) Mr. Elliot: “He was steady, observant, moderate, candid; never run away with by spirits or by selfishness, which fancied itself strong feeling;” This is a dig at FW, “full of life and ardour” (Chapter 4) is now “run away with by spirits” and apparently LR knows that FW really did not love Anne at all as it was only “fancied strong feelings.” (3) Mr. Elliot: “yet with a sensibility to what was amiable and lovely, and a value for all the felicities of domestic life, which characters of fancied enthusiasm and violent agitation seldom really possess.” This is another dig at FW, his “confidence, powerful in its own warmth” (Chapter 4) has become “fancied enthusiasm” and his “sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind” (Chapter 4) has become “violent agitation.” and therefore LR knows that FW has no value for the felicities of domestic life.
Time has erased all of LR’s practical reasons against the match between Anne and FW leaving only her personal dislike of him against it—is this pride, too much pride to admit that FW became a success despite her very definite condemnation in Chapter 4 that the engagement (and therefore marriage) was a wrong thing “indiscreet, improper, hardly capable of success, and not deserving it.” I do not fault LR for not recommending FW again, it would not be reasonable to expect someone to recommend a person they do not like; I fault her for being unwilling to consider and then condemn him again—if she can. I think she knows that she has nothing to say against him unless she wants to say openly that she really, really dislikes him to Anne who she knows feels exactly opposite. I see the proof of this unwillingness in the fact that she does not even acknowledge his presence in Bath—even Sir Walter and Elizabeth design to know him again and Sir Walter even speaks well of his appearance at the concert in Chapter 20, what further recommendation do you need after all.
“As Mr. Elliot became known to her, she grew more charitable, or more indifferent, towards the others. His manners were an immediate recommendation; and on conversing with him she found the solid so fully supporting the superficial, that she was at first, as she told Anne, almost ready to exclaim, "Can this be Mr. Elliot?" and could not seriously picture to herself a more agreeable or estimable man. Every thing united in him: good understanding, correct opinions, knowledge of the world, and a warm heart. He had strong feelings of family attachment and family honour, without pride or weakness; he lived with the liberality of a man of fortune, without display; he judged for himself in every thing essential, without defying public opinion in any point of worldly decorum. He was steady, observant, moderate, candid; never run away with by spirits or by selfishness, which fancied itself strong feeling; and yet with a sensibility to what was amiable and lovely, and a value for all the felicities of domestic life, which characters of fancied enthusiasm and violent agitation seldom really possess.” (Chapter 16)
“Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession; but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing. But he was confident that he should soon be rich; full of life and ardour, he knew that he should soon have a ship, and soon be on a station that would lead to every thing he wanted. He had always been lucky; he knew he should be so still. Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth, and bewitching in the wit which often expressed it, must have been enough for Anne; but Lady Russell saw it very differently. His sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on her. She saw in it but an aggravation of the evil. It only added a dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong. Lady Russell had little taste for wit, and of any thing approaching to imprudence a horror. She deprecated the connexion in every light.”
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