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|Flattery will get you everywhere
Written by Robbin
(10/23/2011 10:45 p.m.)
Anne’s is suspicious Mrs. Clay is angling to be the next Lady Elliot but how realistic are her changes of success? Sir Walter’s ‘one or two private disappointments in very unreasonable applications’ (1) suggests her chances are small. She has personal misfortunes, “freckles, and a projecting tooth, and a clumsy wrist” (5), on which he had continually made sever remarks upon at Kellynch. There are however extenuating circumstances to consider.
When Anne arrives in Bath Sir Walter believes her freckles have been carried away (16) by the use of Gowland’s lotion at his recommendation. I am sure Mrs. Clay has been profuse in her gratitude however I think there is another cause. Anne warned Elizabeth there is “hardly any personal defect…which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to” (5). Mrs. Clay’s manner towards Sir Walter is not just agreeable but flattering. She asked Sir Walter to have “a little mercy” on poor sailors’ appearance because “We are not all born to be handsome” (3). If he did not understand the implication that he was born to be handsome she explains further:
…it is only the lot of those who are not obliged to follow any [profession]…it is only their lot, I say, to hold the blessings of health and a good appearance to the utmost: I know no other set of men but what lose something of their personableness when they cease to be quite young." (3)
Mrs. Clay joined Elizabeth in hinting Sir Walter might have “as good a figure as Colonel Wallis, and certainly was not sandy-haired” (15). If things continue as is her tooth and wrist may also undergo a transformation. According to Lady Russell Anne is her “mother's self in countenance and disposition” (17) and in life Lady Elliot had not been as “highly valued” (17) by her husband as she ought to have been just Anne is undervalued in the present. It begs the question why did Sir Walter marry Miss Stevenson. The charm was that she was infatuated with him:
Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgment and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot… (1)
This explains why the circumstance of Mr. Elliot’s marriage admits of a complete apology to Sir Walter. According to Colonel Wallis’ history his friend was pursued by a beautiful lady of fortune who was in love with him:
She [Mrs. Elliot] was certainly not a woman of family, but well educated, accomplished, rich, and excessively in love with his friend. There had been the charm. She had sought him. Without that attraction, not all her money would have tempted Elliot, and Sir Walter was, moreover, assured of her having been a very fine woman. Here was a great deal to soften the business. A very fine woman, with a large fortune, in love with him! Sir Walter seemed to admit it as complete apology… (15)
Considering everything up to Ch. 18, Mrs. Clay appears to be on the right track to becoming Lady Elliot. (:D)
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