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|GR Focus - All the Marys and Elizabeths
Written by Robbin
(10/6/2008 12:44 p.m.)
My group read focus is on Anne’s aloneness. Chapters 1 to 7 inspired this focus; they are packed full of Anne being ignored, neglected, and used. This first post focuses on the Elliots. The description of the Elliot family history in the Baronetage caught my eye, to me “…with all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married” sets Anne apart from her sisters at birth due to the absence of her name in the ancient rolls. Unlike her sisters, Anne does not appear to have an Elliot family name and likewise she lacks the Elliot pride. Elizabeth’s pride demands a husband not only of baronet blood but of Elliot blood. Mary’s pride demands her right of precedence (as the daughter of a baronet) regardless of the ill feelings it causes among her in-laws. The Elliots, but Anne, are a prideful, selfish and idle lot; they are a family in decline financially and morally. Only Anne consistently shoulders responsibility—in her plan of entrenchment, in taking-leave of the tenants and by warning Elizabeth of Mrs. Clay. Of the Elliot’s Anne alone is of a caliber equal with their ancestors who held responsible office and whose loyalty was noted by deed. By sense, disposition and activity Anne is an outsider within her own family.
Anne’s situation echoes her mother’s; they both made one ill choice that affected their happiness ever afterwards. Lady Elliot married Sir Walter under the influence of a youthful infatuation and “though not the very happiest being in the world herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children, to attach her to life…” (Ch. 1). Anne breaks her engagement to Captain Wentworth under the influence of parental duty to Lady Russell. Seven years later Anne is not the happiest of beings only finding comfort in being of use to family and friends. Anne’s grief is isolating because she has no sympathetic ear; her emotions are kept under constant control. She acts out her mother’s role with Sir Walter: “She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability…” also describes Anne’s relationship with Mary. In Ch. 6 Anne humors Mary’s complaints away then softens, conceals and promotes her as mediator with the Musgroves. Anne’s pride is that of her mother; pride in being useful to others and in a refusal to give in to her sorrow.
Anne is an Elliot in name only—perhaps it is why Sir Walter & Elizabeth disdain and ignore her opinions. Anne cannot be admired because she is not like them in beauty, pride or sentiment. Self-denial in support of right and her “elegance of mind and sweetness of character” is incomprehensible to them. Further she does not appease their biases or court favor with flattery. They leave Anne to tie-up their loose ends at Kellynch and then sooth their dignity by taking the toadying Mrs. Clay to Bath. While Sir Walter & Elizabeth coldly throw Anne away as unwanted Mary commands her into service requiring Anne “bear her company as long as she should want her...” in Ch. 5. Selfish and without personal resources Mary craves attention, coddling and entertainment. It does not occur to her that Anne suffered in leaving Kellynch. Mary is not “so repulsive and unsisterly as Elizabeth” but she is just as unconcerned for Anne’s happiness as the others. Anne’s character, abilities, intelligence and grief isolate her from family as does their self-centeredness and littleness of mind. No Elliot considers her happiness in any way so she is very much alone among her kin. (;D)
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