August 23, 2012 by Heidi
Hi everyone! I realize the link up for this went up yesterday, but I ended up with a surprise dog sitting gig and didn’t have the chance to write up my thoughts. I’ve really been enjoying the book so far (I’ve been reading it as we go), in fact, it’s about the only book that can seem to hold my attention at the moment! Looking forward to finishing it up and seeing what everyone has to think about major ending events. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on the middle of Persuasion:
MIDDLE (chapters 8-18)
Now that we’ve gotten to know most of them a bit, discuss the side characters: who is your favorite? least favorite? Were there things Austen did with these side characters that you absolutely loved or hated?
I’m not going to lie, I don’t particularly like any of the female characters in Persuasion save Anne. She seems to be much more forgiving of them than I, though she’s also probably a much nicer person than me. Louisa and Henrietta don’t seem like bad sorts, but of course as competition, I had to dislike them for Anne’s sake. That’s what girlfriends do after all.
There is one female character I adore, or rather, one couple, and that is Mr. and Mrs. Croft! They seem like so much fun. I love that they enjoy spending time with one another so greatly and that they care more about enjoying themselves and their lives than what everyone else seems to think. These two are my favorite side characters without a doubt. I do also enjoy Bentwick and the Harvilles, who all seem like good people. Once I saw Bentwick and Louisa ending up together, I even had to begrudgingly admit that the later wasn’t so annoying after all.
As Anne and Wentworth are thrown together more and more, how do you feel about the fact that they never address their shared history? Do you find either to be irrational or unjust in not being open with the other and broaching the topic? Do you find Anne too self-sacrificing?
I kid you not that this question made me laugh. A lot. Because it never even occurred to me before that they’re not talking about it might be odd. I come from one of those quietly stoic families of NOT TALKING ABOUT IT. In fact, just last week my boyfriend said thoughtfully ‘you know, your family could be British’, because that’s just the way we are. If I were in Anne’s situation, I wouldn’t be bringing up our history either. I realize the ignore it and it’ll go away stance isn’t largely considered the healthiest way of dealing with uncomfortable situations, but it’s one I can get behind.
I do not think Anne is too self sacrificing, I think that she’s just acknowledged that she’s screwed things up, and doesn’t see a way to repair them. She believes the best, and least painful route for herself will be to move on and try to be genuinely happy when Wentworth picks one of her neighbors to marry. She can tell herself that until the cows come home, but we all know it’s a load of hooey.
Is there ever a time you dislike Capt. Wentworth? Were you put off by his treatment of Anne?
Well, I honestly don’t blame him for the way he treats Anne at all, after all, it was she that broke his heart and not the other way around. I feel like he’s never outright hostile to her, if he is a bit ungenerous at times, you can hardly blame him. I do think that maybe he tries to flaunt the fact that women are interested in him, but once he gets over his petty needs and realizes that maybe he doesn’t spite her so much, he’s much better.
Discuss the incidents at Lyme; consider Louisa’s fall from the cob and Wentworth’s subsequent praise of Anne, the appearance of Mr Elliot and his reaction to Anne (and Wentworth’s reaction to him), etc.
I felt as if Louisa was grating on Wentworth’s nerves a bit by the time she had the accident in Lyme, and that the more mature Anne was looking better and better all the time. When the party passed Mr. Elliot, who looked upon Anne with such interest, I think it may have caused Wentworth to do a bit of a double take with her. It’s hard to notice change in someone you see constantly, but Mr. Elliot’s attention likely prompted Wentworth to step back and take note of Anne’s improved spirits since he’d first arrived at Uppercross.
I felt as if Wentworth was so adamant about Anne staying to care for Louisa because she had regained his trust. He wanted her around to care for Louisa, who he felt responsible for but was not romantically attached to, and perhaps wanted her around to spend more time with since he would be in Lyme as well…or maybe he just didn’t want to have to deal with Mary.
Discuss Anne’s arrival in Bath, considering the continued presence of Mr Elliot, Anne’s reaction to her family and the way she begins to distance herself from them and stand up for herself more than she has been known to do.
I’ll admit it, I’d been dreading Bath because I find Anne’s family both boring and insufferable, so I was happy to have Mr. Elliot and the Crofts around to liven things up a bit. I like that Anne is willing to welcoming Mr. Elliot to the family, but she doesn’t throw herself at him, and is adamantly against forming any attachment to him despite Lady Russel’s point of view on the matter, for which I am happy because as interesting as he might be I don’t trust the man given his past. I find it humorous that the only way it seems either of her sisters will ever find husbands is through the men Anne herself rejects (this is me presuming that perhaps Mr. Elliot will end up with Elizabeth when Anne declines interest).
I think it’s fantastic that Anne is willing to distance herself from her family, go off on her own, and stand up for her own opinions more than she had been previously. I think having been away from those who most influenced her in the past gave her a chance to build a little backbone, and breathe, making it harder for them to then regain their positions over her.
That’s it for now! Next week I’ll be posting my final thoughts on Persuasion and celebrating the fact that I am no longer a member of the uninitiated.