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|He does not want her
Written by Robbin
(10/17/2011 4:43 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Chicken & egg, penned by Frances G
I was not suggesting Anne is prohibited by propriety from initiating a conversation with Frederick rather that his behavior clearly shows him to be unwilling to converse with her beyond mere civilities. She is keeping her distance because of his behavior but that is not his reason. He is keeping his distance because he has not forgiven her. He is still angry and resentful. Anne is not alike angry or resentful and does not exude those feelings in her manner towards Frederick. No matter what he makes of her behavior I do not think it is as clear as the “stay away” he projects. With such feelings as his I think Anne’s passivity towards Frederick is something along the lines of Lizzy’s feeling “she had no business at Pemberley” (P&P, 42) or rather no business with Frederick.
In their first meeting their interaction is confined to formal acknowledgement (a bow and a curtsey) and he then directs his conversation to the other ladies present. It would not be improper for Anne to say something about the weather or the neighborhood but I think she would have had to bulldoze through the others conversation to do it. Also considering all that has gone before it seems frivolous. Again, I think it is pretty clear he is not amiable to a conversing with Anne. Just her nearness sparks his hurtful, resentful performance at the pianoforte in Ch. 8. He manages to touch several tender feelings in just a few well chosen words:
Once, too, he spoke to her. …Unintentionally she returned to that part of the room; he saw her, and instantly rising, said, with studied politeness --
"I beg your pardon, madam, this is your seat"; and though she immediately drew back with a decided negative, he was not to be induced to sit down again.
Anne did not wish for more of such looks and speeches. His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than any thing. (8)
He springs up like Anne has the plague and he must escape. I would happily put this jumpiness to embarrassment or the like but his behavior does not support it. His manner is affected and the courtesy of returning the chair to her is officious—aggressive, unwanted and unnecessary. His air is of being imposed upon, insisting the seat at the pianoforte is hers by right is as much as saying she is a spinster. His refusal to retake his seat seems to say “I require nothing from you Madam.” It is all very unpleasant.
Emma sometimes does not know when to keep her own counsel. She blunders so badly in several conversations the idea she would start a conversation with Frederick in Anne’s place is not exactly a recommendation for doing it. Lizzy is a bit tongue-tied with Darcy at their first meeting after Pemberley. At first she said “as little…as civility would allow” and to Darcy she had hardly courage to speak (53). The best she can do towards conversation is a civil inquiry after his sister (53) and a “Is your sister at Pemberley still” (54) at their next meeting. It is not until she selfishly relieves her own feelings by thanking him for his “unexampled kindness” (58) to Lydia that Lizzy really converses freely with Darcy again.
If lively, witty Lizzy was too full of feeling to initiate a conversation with Darcy then surely Anne can be absolved from initiating a conversation with Frederick. After removing Little Charles from her back his noisy interaction with the child convinced Anne that he “meant to avoid hearing her thanks, and rather sought to testify that her conversation was the last of his wants” (9). So even when he helped Anne his manner still suggested any efforts towards him on her part were unwanted. I think trying to make nice about trivialities with a man who is still angry and resentful after eight years is rather risky. Why should Anne court rejection and add to the pain his presence already comprehends? (:D)
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