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|Anne's acquaintance with Miss Smith- an analysis
Written by Ramya
(10/20/2011 1:47 p.m.)
Anne visits her former governess and hears of the presence of an old school-fellow in Bath, who has now fallen into ill-health and poverty. Miss Hamilton was very kind to Anne at a most important period in her life- soon after she had lost her mother. Anne decides to visit her.
Her father's reaction, upon hearing of her visits to Mrs. Smith, is typical. "who is Miss Anne Elliot to be visiting in Westgate Buildings? A Mrs. Smith. A widow Mrs. Smith; and who was her husband? One of the five thousand Mr. Smiths whose names are to be met with everywhere. And what is her attraction? That she is old and sickly. Upon my word, Miss Anne Elliot, you have the most extraordinary taste! Everything that revolts other people -- low company, paltry rooms, foul air, disgusting associations -- are inviting to you. But surely you may put off this old lady till to-morrow: she is not so near her end, I presume, but that she may hope to see another day. What is her age? Forty?" Ch. 17
The things he has against Mrs. Smith are that she lives in an unfashionable part of the town and that it would get about that Sir Walter Elliot's daughter was frequenting these parts, she is a widow (apparently he has never read parts of the Bible that deal with the treatment of widows and orphans), that she is old (how young is Sir Walter, btw??), and sickly (are you sure you are going to never get sick, Sir Walter??). Sir Walter has been an object of jest for most of the novel. I remember people mentioning that while one could laugh at him, one could not laugh at Elizabeth. But this part seriously makes my blood boil! What a horribly selfish and narcissistic ass of a man!
Lady Russel however, approves of this friendship, and she and Mr. Elliot speak highly of her. He honoured for staying away in such a cause. Her kind, compassionate visits to this old schoolfellow, sick and reduced, seemed to have quite delighted Mr. Elliot. Ch. 17
I'm going to sound a little blasphemous by saying at this point that Anne, like Elizabeth Bennet deserves neither such praise nor such censure! Granted, Anne could have been snotty and chosen not to renew her acquaintance with someone who was no longer her equal in rank. But I don't feel like elevating her action to something noble and benevolent, if that was the narrator's intention. After all, Mrs. Smith had been very kind to her in the past. Was it not common decency to reconnect with her when she had a chance? What do you say, gentle readers, am I being too stingy in my praise of Anne?
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