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|What was her name?
Written by Robbin
(10/25/2005 6:30 p.m.)
Poor Mrs. William Walter Elliot, no one cares to know about her, I cannot even find a reference to her Christian name; it seems her life came and went with its only purpose to make Mr. Elliot independent, wealthy and safe from the schemes of Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Daughter of a butcher, granddaughter to a grazier, even compassionate Anne has but little reason to wonder about her, however, in Chapter 21, Mrs. Smith still does relate some information about her:
She was of an inferior situation in society to that of Mrs. Smith; I surmise that is indeed less than that of a baronet which Mr. Elliot is heir to. She was a fine—as in “well-looking” (?) woman who had a decent education in the usual feminine accomplishments of dancing, music, drawing, and fashion with little to no stimulation for her intellect. She met Mr. Elliot by chance and fell in love with him but he did not fall in love with her but married her despite her unfortunate connections for wealth and independence. Mr. Elliot was very unkind to her because she was ignorant and giddy, being too inexperienced and unprepared by character to be able to turn a bad situation into a tolerable one like Sir Walter’s Lady Elliot and consequently they were very unhappy.
“In Lady Russell's view, it was perfectly natural that Mr. Elliot, at a mature time of life, should feel it a most desirable object, and what would very generally recommend him among all sensible people, to be on good terms with the head of his family; the simplest process in the world of time upon a head naturally clear, and only erring in the heyday of youth.” (Chapter 16)
I cannot agree with Lady Russell that Mr. Elliot’s change of heart towards the Elliot’s of Kellynch Hall is a completely natural outcome of his maturity. Granted, maturity must make him see the value of being titled rather than not as Mrs. Smith says in Chapter 21, “Having long had as much money as he could spend, nothing to wish for on the side of avarice or indulgence, he has been gradually learning to pin his happiness upon the consequence he is heir to.” Added to this, the last legacy of poor nameless wife is that she was the primary instrument through which his unequal marriage taught him a very unpleasant lesson and this also played a part in Mr. Elliot’s fervor for the baronetcy and a return to the sphere in which he belongs:
He obtained the wealth and independence that he sought by his marriage but he found himself legally bound to a woman he could not respect and who was completely incompatible with his character and his manners and the style of living he wished to maintain. What he really desired was an Anne Elliot but what he had was a wife as silly akin to a Lydia Bennet in P&P and as foolish and crass as an Anne Steele in S&S and a victim to charming insincerity like Eliza Williams in S&S.
----All quotes below are from Chapter 21:
“I was the friend to whom he confided his hopes and plans; and though I did not know his wife previously, -- her inferior situation in society, indeed, rendered that impossible -- yet I knew her all her life afterwards, or at least till within the last two years of her life, and can answer any question you wish to put.”
"Mr. Elliot," replied Mrs. Smith, "at that period of his life had one object in view: to make his fortune, and by a rather quicker process than the law. He was determined to make it by marriage.”
"But was not she a very low woman?" "Yes; which I objected to, but he would not regard. Money, money, was all that he wanted. Her father was a grazier, her grandfather had been a butcher, but that was all nothing. She was a fine woman, had had a decent education, was brought forward by some cousins, thrown by chance into Mr. Elliot's company, and fell in love with him; and not a difficulty or a scruple was there on his side with respect to her birth. All his caution was spent in being secured of the real amount of her fortune, before he committed himself.”
"He was very unkind to his first wife. They were wretched together. But she was too ignorant and giddy for respect, and he had never loved her. I was willing to hope that you must fare better."
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