Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Anne's Courage (Long)
Written by BarbaraB
(10/29/2011 8:37 p.m.)
Across the various readings of Persuasion I have vacillated on my thoughts of whether Anne had enough courage and whether or not she should have ended her engagement. On this read-through I was struck by something that I hadnít paid much attention to in the past: technically Anne had a loophole and was apparently considering it. We are told, Sir Walter, on being applied to, without actually withholding his consent, or saying it should never be, and we are also told, Young and gentle as she was, it might yet have been possible to withstand her father's ill-will, though unsoftened by one kind word or look on the part of her sister;(4) I think the fact that Anne was willing to keep the engagement despite her fatherís ill-will is pretty courageous. In the end, of course, Such opposition (Lady Russellís), as these feelings produced, was more than Anne could combat.(4) In actuality Anne may have gotten away, in good conscious, with invoking the fact that her father did not prohibit the marriage, though claiming he would do nothing to help her. Nevertheless he was her legal parent and patriarch so his response could be held up as the rightful one. (I have always wondered why he wasnít completely against the engagement). In any case, I donít know if it would have worked because one couldn't be sure that the attempt would have had any effect on stopping Lady Russell from trying to persuade Anne from giving up the engagement. Lady Russell did bring common sense to the situation in that they could not marry right away but was it entirely necessary for a complete rupture of the relationship, is something I given more thought to this time.
In volume two, once Wentworth arrives in Bath unattached and free, wanting to reverse her original decision, Anneís courage blossoms---sheís on a mission. She takes control and neither rain, hail or sleet is going to deter her nor her fatherís ill will, her sisterís cold shoulder, Lady Russellís advice or even her scheduled visit to Mrs. Smith. She immediately begins, within propriety of course, to try to let Captain Wentworth know her feelings:
*She first comes in contact with him at Mollandís and itís interesting the way the power has shifted. And while there is a lot of feeling going on within her---Ēagitation, pain, pleasure, a something between delight and miseryĒ---she is able to come off relatively calm in a toe to toe conversation with the Captain. No timidity here.
*Anne reasons that since Captain Wentworth is fond of music, he will be at the concert. She apparently was not intending to go, for she has to cancel her visit with Mrs. Smith to show up there herself. If she could only have a few minutes conversation with him again, she fancied she should be satisfied; and as to the power of addressing him, she felt all over courage if the opportunity occurred. Elizabeth had turned from him, Lady Russell overlooked him: her nerves were strengthened by these circumstances(19) Her courage does not fail: ...Captain Wentworth walked in alone. Anne was the nearest to him, and making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing only to bow and pass on, but her gentle "How do you do?" brought him out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in return, in spite of the formidable father and sister in the background.(20) The content of the conversation leads her to believe, He must love her.(20) During a break in the concert Anne manipulates herself to be seated on the end of the row so that should Captain Wentworth come by she will be easily accessible should he want to talk further with her.
*The conversation between Captain Harville and Anne at the window is the clincher. Initially, Anne is not aware that they are positioned close enough for Captain Wentworth to overhear until his pen falls and she thinks, though while he was trying to catch their words, that he has not. Unaware that he has figured out her feelings from what she has already said, I think her last sentence was an effort on her part to let him know: "All the privilege I claim for my own sex...is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone!Ē She could not immediately have uttered another sentence: her heart was too full, her breath too much oppressed.
I came across something a few days ago that I had either forgotten or most likely never realized. Anneís financial situation on her engagement to Captain Wentworth was the same as Cassandra Austenís to Tom Fowle. ...Tom Fowle had hardly any resources beyond his almost worthless parish in Wiltshire, and no immediate prospect of anything better; Cassandra had no money at all. Both were dutiful and sensible, and they knew, without either family having to put pressure on them, that they would have to wait, possibly for years, before they could marry., (Claire Tomlin) It was a long engagement. While Tom waited for a family living in Shropshire that was half-promised, he went as army chaplain on a military expedition to the West Indies in an effort to amass some savings. (Maggie Lane) Unfortunately, shortly before he was to return to England, he contracted yellow fever and died. Cassandra received a widowís portion, I assume because the engagement was official and this was written in the marriage articles? If not, he obviously saw fit to leave what was due to his fiancee. Anne felt that she would have been happier had she maintained the engagement rather than having given it up completely. I am beginning to think the same for if she had, she would have been able to keep up communication with him which would have been a wonderful thing for her. Long engagements were not for everyone, perhaps most, but I look at Cassandra and the character of Anne and I feel that some women were different---they had the capacity to love deep and remain constant without wavering or regret.
In the end, Anneís story is a great love story but only by the skin of her teeth which only increases its sigh-worthiness because it almost wasn't. Providence must have been smiling down on her: if her father hadnít been such a financial disaster and if he hadnít rented to the Crofts and if Anne hadnít gone to the Musgroveís instead of directly to Bath and if Louisa hadnít fallen, and if Captain Benwick hadnít been there during Louisaís convalescence and if Anne hadnít been determined and courageous enough to take advantage of a new opportunity and with all the ifs in between....well, you can see what I mean. There must have been a time or two when she looked at a spinster and thought, ďThere but for the Grace....Ē
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.