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|Set for Another
Written by Robbin
(10/28/2005 1:56 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I like Captain Harville!, penned by Cheryl
"Yes, and you may guess who it is for. But" (in a deep tone) "it was not done for her. Miss Elliot, do you remember our walking together at Lyme, and grieving for him? I little thought then -- but no matter. This was drawn at the Cape. He met with a clever young German artist at the Cape, and in compliance with a promise to my poor sister, sat to him, and was bringing it home for her; And I have now the charge of getting it properly set for another! It was a commission to me! But who else was there to employ? I hope I can allow for him. I am not sorry, indeed, to make it over to another. He undertakes it" (looking towards Captain Wentworth); "he is writing about it now." And with a quivering lip he wound up the whole by adding, "Poor Fanny! she would not have forgotten him so soon!" (Chapter 23)
I started thinking about the portrait and why it fell to Harville to have it reset: Captain Wentworth is not there to be asked. My next question is what is wrong with sending it by post, either to a shop or to FW. All I can say is that Mr. Elton, in Emma, hand carried the portrait of Harriet to town to have it framed so maybe the post was considered too risky. Then there is Charles, is he not appropriate to ask because Louisa is his sister or because he is not really that close to JB or maybe both? Then there is the idea that JB could have come to town to oversee it himself? Is there a reason to suppose JA now wishes us to see JB as insensitive and cruel by sending Fanny’s brother on this heartless mission. I think it may be thoughtless but not intentionally cruel as we are given a plausible reason for JB to stay behind and that is to comfort a still sensitive Louisa and Captain Harville himself tells Anne “But who else was there to employ?”
"Yes, I believe I do; very much recovered; but she is altered: there is no running or jumping about, no laughing or dancing; it is quite different. If one happens only to shut the door a little hard, she starts and wriggles like a young dab-chick in the water; and Benwick sits at her elbow, reading verses, or whispering to her, all day long." (Chapter 22)
I would like to look at Captain Harville for he is in an awkward situation. He is a devoted husband and father, when he tells Anne of leaving and reuniting with his family I imagine that it must be hard for him to accept that JB is even capable of loving another. To a man with his deep family ties and with JB living in his family it might just come as a shock to witness this sudden abandonment of Fanny’s memory by way of Louisa’s engagement. Captain Harville says he is not sorry to make the portrait over to another but his quivering lip and the need for FW to take on the task makes it pretty obvious that his emotions are running high and much of what he says shows that he is having a difficult time accepting their engagement, "Poor Fanny! she would not have forgotten him so soon!" and “I hope I can allow for him.” He is truly a man divided, he grieves for Fanny feeling her memory dishonored while wishing his friend to be happy. For Captain Harville the debate with Anne over whether it is in the nature of man or woman to love longest is an effort to bridge this divide. I am not sure that he is successful but he ends his part by saying in Chapter 23, “You are a good soul," cried Captain Harville, putting his hand on her arm, quite affectionately. "There is no quarrelling with you. And when I think of Benwick, my tongue is tied."
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