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|Anne's waxing self
Written by Stephanie
(10/29/2011 11:51 p.m.)
Has anyone else noticed Anne's presence increasing throughout the novel?
In the first chapters, she is mentioned (barely), until she finally gets a couple of lines herself in ch. 3.
Then, while with the Musgroves, she becomes of some use, although her concerns and views still take a back seat. She is a solid, admirable supporting character to the action.
At Lyme, she is active, of purpose to strangers, as well as family, and her talents finally get some actual general value, by her love of literature being available to Capt. Benwick. I do not think Capt. Hargrave normally comments on his acquaintance's ability to discuss poetry and prose! But, if that skill helps his friend... And then, of course, the accident, wherein it is obvious to all (except perhaps Mary) that she is the most steady, reliable, and regarded of the females in their group.
Volume two has her invisible again, and gradually becoming a force, but in a different way: now she does not want to be invisible, and her swelling importance is more internally stylized, until the reader is not surprised to see it burst forth in a turn that surprises all the supporting cast, of a life that used to be one supporting role after another itself!
At first in Bath, she finds herself trying to act, but stymied. It is as if her father and sister do not realize that she has been treated of some importance, and is having trouble slipping back into the observer role. No wonder she wants to visit Mrs. Smith! To HER, Anne is valued for all the reasons Anne herself is justified in valuing in herself!
Capt. Wentworth's arrival increases the tension, urging her to act, despite societal pressures and their past demanding that she remain in the passive role appropriate to her situation.
The new information about Mr. Elliot momentarily changes her focus: she is concerned to the point of fretting, is desperate to make a decision and act, yet knowing that nothing can be efficaciously done. Reading about her circular, hopeless thoughts is a window into shock and despair.
Then the conversation with Capt. Hargrave and Capt. Wentworth's letter, and Anne is the focus again. Balance is restored: the second rise of Anne's consequence reaches its greatest height, putting the coda on this libretto.
Mr. Elliot is of so little importance NOW, that reading chapters 23 and 22 in reverse order feels a little like Persuasion is suddenly a what-if? universe novel: What if we actually cared about Mr. Elliot's imminent betrayal of two of the people we have no esteem for and don't much like? For in ch. 23 all the problems that were draining Anne's mental energy and casting her into a pit a despair are minimized, and her happiness white-washes everything else to a managable level of blandness!
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