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Written by Robbin
(10/17/2008 2:13 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Indeed a mouse, penned by Martina
When Anne and Frederick meet in Ch. 7 you imagine Anne looking at the ground the entire time but that is not proof Anne is cringing like a scared mouse. I can imagine Anne busying herself with tea—I don’t see any reason to assume she stares dumbly at the floor. His manners set the tone of their relationship and notice that Frederick does not address Anne—he talks to Mary and he talks to the Miss Musgroves “enough to mark an easy footing” but he does not talk to Anne. Anne thinks his comment about her being altered is about her appearance and I agree. I don’t see how Frederick could determine much from Anne’s demeanor in just a few highly embarrassing minutes when his attention is focused on Mary and then the Miss Musgroves and never on Anne after he bowed to her.
You criticize Anne for “making herself small” but also for staying when Frederick sat on the sofa with her and Mrs. Musgrove in Chapter 8? It seems contradictory criticism to me. What exactly do you suggest Anne do to make Frederick remember how she used to be? He has made it plain he is not interested in her. It seems to me the least dignified thing Anne could do at this time is try to gain his attention away from the ladies he has chosen to shower it on.
I don’t think Anne lost her politeness after Frederick silently removed little Walter from her neck—Ch. 9. The text says at first she was speechless at this kindness and progressed to “most disordered feelings” and then she is convinced he does not want to hear her thanks or desire her conservation because of “the noise he was studiously making with the child.” Anne wanted to say thanks but he made is clear he did not want to hear her.
Anne had “some feelings of interest and curiosity” for the long walk in Ch. 10 but the text also says Anne thought it would be rude to refuse to continue on with the party, “she fancied now that it was too late to retract.” I guess the mouse-like behavior here is Anne deciding to go on the walk but then being too “scared” to say anything to Frederick? I don’t think her intention in walking was to attend Frederick; it is still up to him to change their relationship. He attaches himself to the Miss Musgroves and does not invite Anne or suggest by sentiment or action she would be welcome to join them. When Anne accidentally found herself near Frederick in Ch. 8 he made it clear he did not desire it. That being the case making it her object “not to be in the way of anybody” is a sensible course or said another way, ensuring she does not go where she is not wanted.
Anne has withdrawn into herself. She has lost her youthful spirits and she protects herself by hardening herself against expectation but she still has the same elegant mind she has always had. Frederick might see that if he was willing to meet her on a level of friendship but he is not willing to do that. I do see quiet strength and dignity in how Anne goes about her business. Facing Frederick after their last parting when he felt so ill-used by her, knowing what he thinks of her appearance, continuing in his company after enduring all his resentful digs and cold ceremonial politeness to witness his foolish attentions to both the Miss Musgroves and especially his idiotic dwelling on Louisa’s firmness of mind all took a great deal of inner strength and dignity to endure.
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