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|Ch.10: The power of silence
Written by Line
(10/18/2008 10:30 p.m.)
Something else struck me while I was reading Louisa's conversation with Captain Wentworth in ch.10. It's obvious that the Elliot family (including Anne) don't talk to each other about anything important, and in our last GR I mentioned that it made me feel a bit impatient with them all. We are told that Mary knows nothing about Elizabeth's experiences with Mr. Elliot or Anne's relationship with Captain Wentworth because she was young and away at school at the time. This makes a certain amount of sense, but clearly no one has mentioned these important events in her sisters' lives to her since then, either.
Although we are never definitely told one way or the other, I'm also convinced that Mary has no clue that her husband was ever seriously interested in Anne, either, because if she did, IMO Mary is the type who couldn't resist mentioning it, either as a guilt-inducer when she was feeling low, or as "See, he liked me better than you!" when she wanted to score over her sister.
On the other hand, as Louisa tells CW, she and Henrietta were just as much away at school when Charles proposed to Anne, yet she (and IMO Henrietta) are fully aware of what happened, if not exactly when (and the age difference between them and Charles is about the same as between Mary and Elizabeth). Either the senior Musgroves guessed (or as I suspect, Charles told them outright) that he had proposed to Anne and been turned down. Then later on, someone (probably Mrs. Musgrove) saw fit to inform one or both of the girls about it. Now, I admit that in a large family, it's harder to keep secrets, but IMO this says a lot about each family and the way they communicate with each other.
In her conversation with CW, Louisa asks him, "I suppose you know [Charles] wanted to marry Anne?" At first I wondered how in heck she thought he would hear something like this, or be interested if he did (before ever meeting the people involved), but afterwards I figured it was just a rhetorical question, meant to introduce the subject as a way to bring him closer to her by sharing this secret. On the other hand, if Louisa is seriously asking him if he knows about it, it goes to show that surprisingly "private" information did make the rounds of the local grapevine, as well! (What we think of Louisa for sharing her brother's personal affairs with someone who was still a comparative stranger is another story!)
I just keep being amazed by JA's ability to keep all these small details straight, and using them to make subtle comments about her characters!
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