Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|15 paragraphs to tell Wentworth's side of the story (long)
Written by Jenny Allan
(10/26/2005 10:51 a.m.)
JA's narrative efficiency has always amazed me, and she usually saves her best efforts for the last chapters of her novels, where we get the man's side of the story. Here we have just 15 paragraphs to tell us what Wentworth has been feeling, not just since the novel began, but since he and Anne broke up 8 and half years earlier.
This is what makes re-reading Persuasion such a treat, because with this knowledge you can go back and decipher all the little clues and hints to his feelings in his seemingly enigmatic behavior throughout the book.
There are quite a few surprises in this, and we are left to imagine, for example, Wentworth's weeks at Lyme.
From that period his penance had become severe. He had no sooner been free from the horror and remorse attending the first few days of Louisa's accident, no sooner begun to feel himself alive again, than he had begun to feel himself, though alive, not at liberty.
"I found," said he, "that I was considered by Harville an engaged man!
He really had not considered that his attentions had been received as they had. He'd been oblivious and selfish in actions, in a way, using Louisa Musgrove, for his own purposes of as he says, "angry pride."
He was using Louisa to hurt Anne. That is a harsh thing for him to admit and for us to look at and still like him. A rather big thing for Anne to forgive. And yet, his willingness to go through with the engagement, shows him to be at least honorable, and willing to accept responsibility for his own actions. " I had been grossly wrong, and must abide the consequences."
I've always wondered why, at that moment he chooses to leave Lyme. He must have thought of the duty he owed his brother (one he'd conveniently overlooked for so long) and seen it as a brief little reprieve before taking up the life sentence of marrying Louisa.
It's always bugged me that Wentworth gets out of his commitment to Louisa by being gone so much of the time (and inadvertanly by convincing Benwick not to go to Kellynch) during her recovery. If he was really serious about going through with marrying her, he should have been the one to sit quietly at her side and read to her. But his actions come off to me, as rather like that of a man who is unwilling to be the bad guy, unwilling to actually break up with someone, and instead uses a series of coded signals in his behavior to end a relationship. It just strikes me as a little bit cowardly. Yet, I think he really did intend, though grudgingly, to go through with the marraige, because he felt responsible for Louisa.
I think that not only did Anne and Captain Wentworth benefit greatly by Louisa's change of affection, so did Louisa. How miserable they would have been together and if CW's disappearing act during her recovery was any indication of what their married life would be like, I'm sure it would have been lonely and miserable for her.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.