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|Frederick Wentworth, concluded (long)
Written by gianni
(10/30/2011 2:30 a.m.)
I did this work early in the week and decided that it wasn't really worthwhile to put it out, since this week's text revealed all and left us in no essential doubt about Frederick's actions and motives.
Now, I just went back and read through it again, and have decided that, even though it doesn't give us a possible view into a totally invisible mind, as the previous did, it at least completes the task I'd set myself. And may even provide an alternative perspective.
Chs. 13 -- 17
Anne is separated from him, she in Uppercross and Bath, he in Lyme, then Plymouth, then Shropshire.
He writes a letter to Sophy upon hearing of Louisa's engagement to Captain Benwick; the letter mystifies everyone, who had been sure he was in love with, and even had an understanding with Louisa, and would suffer upon hearing of it. The letter wishes Benwick and Louisa well and happy, and expresses not the least sense of disappointment or ill will.
Frederick arrives in Bath; encounters Anne for the first time in a shop, where he has accompanied some friends. The encounter is a surprise, and embarrassing recollections of the last time they met (and maybe other thoughts) discompose him a bit. He recovers, however, and engages in some small talk. They speak of Uppercross, the Musgroves, and even Louisa with reasonable composure.
Her sister sees, but ignores, even snubs him. The carriage that is to take away Elizabeth and Mrs. Clay arrives; with a great commotion, announcing that she is to be transported by Lady Dalrymple, Elizabeth leaves. Frederick, thinking to help Anne into the carriage, is told that Anne must walk home. He signals an offer to accompany her home, or to get a chair for her; no, she is waiting for Mr. Elliot, who arrives just then.
Elliot gushes all over Anne and carries her away. Frederick hears his company tell of an apparent attachment between the two. Has he lost his chance? Was his dalliance with Louisa fatal to any hope of reconciliation?
He roams Bath for a few days with friends and relations.
Frederick comes to a concert and meets Anne unexpectedly. He expects her to be distant, and, not wanting to press himself upon her, intends to pass by with a casual greeting.
She steps forward, greets him with a lovely smile. This disarms and arrests him; they make some small talk, Sir Walter and Elizabeth acknowledge him (ungraciously, yes, but at least they don't ignore him). Frederick and Anne run out of small things to say; he brings up Lyme, which quickly raises matters he would rather have avoided. However, he directs the conversation to the engagement between Benwick and Louisa, expressing dismay at a man like Benwick, who has recently lost a dearly beloved woman, being susceptible to an inferior like Louisa.
He realizes the personal implications of what he has just said, and stops in confusion. He recovers quickly, however, and continues with his opinion of the excessive disparity between Benwick, a clever, well-read man and Louisa, an amiable woman, not deficient, but nothing special, either. Certainly not up to Fanny Harville's standard.
Again he has to stop, and this time does not continue. Anne breaks the continuing silence with a comment on his stay at Lyme, to which he replies, blaming himself severely for Louisa's accident; expressing the opinion that she couldn't remember it with pleasure. Anne surprises him saying that she had delightful memories of Lyme, ending with the comment that a couple of painful hours could not erase the great pleasure she had found in Lyme and its environs. She's been so very pleasant this evening -- almost as she was eight years before?
Her family arrives and separates them; Elliot is with them, reminding him of the widespread feeling of the community that she and Elliot appear to be becoming a couple. He turns away and goes into the Concert Room to escape the deteriorating situation.
A little later she enters with her family company and proceeds to their benches without noticing him -- without even looking for him? Elliot is seated next to her, which aggravates the pangs. Worse, she and Elliot engage in animated conversation toward the end of the first act.
She suddenly catches sight of him; he looks away, not wishing to intrude his own discomfiture on her. The act ends; she moves to the end of the bench and Elliot disappears. She catches his eye again, and seems receptive to further conversation; he can't resist making his way toward her and speaking of the concert, which he hasn't enjoyed. She, on the other hand, enjoyed it considerably, and is so pleasant that he begins to recover his spirits and chats more pleasantly himself.
Then Elliot appears again, puts a familiar hand on her shoulder, and asks for help with the language of an Italian song coming in the next segment of the concert. When she finally has time for him again, he begs off talking any more, and leaves.
He is not present.
He accompanies Charles Musgrove and Captain Harville to the elder Musgroves' lodgings, where he meets Anne. The memory of their previous meeting is painful, and he retreats from conversation with her.
Elliot is noticed in the street below, and Anne protests that it cannot be him; she is aware of his plans to be gone that day and the next. This seems to imply an intimacy which further discourages him; when Mary convinces her to come to the window and look for herself, she is forced to agree that it is Elliot, and seems discomposed.
A bit later, when Musgrove is teasing Mary about the next evening's party at Sir Walter's lodgings, he mentions Elliot in dismissive terms, and Frederick glances at Anne; her expression seems to agree with Musgrove's declaration. The play intended for the next evening is postponed, however, for a dutiful attendance at Sir Walter's invitation.
He tries to engage Anne in conversation, with some encouragement, when Henrietta calls her to their planned and already delayed outing. Before they can leave, Sir Walter himself and Elizabeth enter to present the party invitations personally; upon finding Frederick there, they pointedly and cordially include him in the invitation. He accepts the card from Elizabeth, and ponders his intention for the party.
Ch. 23. 24
And now Frederick is fully integrated into the story; when he meets Anne at the Musgroves', it's clear that he's burdened with feeling; and the wonderful conversation between Anne and Harville, succeeded by the famous letter, render any continuation of this speculation irrelevant, even presumptuous.
Thanks to all for reading; thanks to you who supported, even mildly, my point of view; thanks to you who disagreed for making me read and think harder.
And most particularly, thanks to Cheryl and RoP for providing these wonderful fora and resources. And for digging out all the background information.
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