Persuasion
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Rescooped by Will Monroe from English: PERSUASION!
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Charles Hayter

Harriet Gillet offers this insight:


Via Hippo, NurseRooke69
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Hippo's curator insight, April 27, 2013 2:15 AM

I was just having a look at the significance of periphery characters in Persuasion. Thought you might want to scoop it.


An example of someone who has improved his position in his society through his intellect: like Benwick, Hayter is inferred by Austin to possess some of that admirable ‘elasticity of mind’ by his interest in books; he has ‘chosen to be a scholar and a gentleman, and who was very superior in cultivation and manners to all the rest’ of his family’s ‘inferior, retired, and unpolished way of living, and their own defective education.’[ch. 9]
He and Wentworth are both examples of self-made men who have been successful. However Charles is, to an extent, the antithesis of Wentworth: whilst Wentworth is described as having ‘no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain profession, and no connexions… He had always been lucky; he knew that he should so still’ [ch. 4 p. 27] in contrast, Charles’s profession is the church, and therefore to get ahead he is:
1. Dependent on influential connections, to line him up for good positions
2. Dependent on the current occupants of those positions (eg. Dr. Shirley) getting old enough to need assistance or pass away.
SO. He’s on the way up, however his path is a slow and boring one: this can be juxtaposed with Wentworth’s exciting and prosperous career in the navy where he is seen to “get rich quick”.
It is interesting that upon returning to Uppercross ‘He had the pain of finding very altered manners, and of seeing Captain Wentworth’[ch. 9] from Henrietta- the connections to Anne and Wentworth’s relationship here; Austen’s mirroring the language used to depict Wentworth’s reaction to seeing Anne again; ‘You were so altered he should not have known you again’ [ch. 7] allows the parallels to emerge and be observed. 
Like Anne, who must develop as a character in order to progress towards a marriage with Wentworth, Henrietta physically has to complete the walk to Winthrop to be reunited with Charles.
Charles’ Jealousy of Wentworth, his refusal to talk to him child tormenting Anne with Wentworth by the window scene, can be seen as a foreshadowing of Wentworth’s jealousy of William Elliot.
In addition, Austen portrays him as a somewhat ineffectual young man in order to first expose that Wentworth still has some form of feeling for Anne. When Anne Elliot is having trouble with her nephew, Hayter only tells him to stop, with no result. It is Wentworth who lifts the child away. 

Hippo's comment, April 27, 2013 2:18 AM
Some really interesting and detailed ideas here arising from thoughtful comparison of characters. Henrietta's and Hayter's marriage, it appears, will be happy - so a victory for persuasion on Louisa's behalf and Henrietta's lack of concern of Hayter's social position. Their "courtship" offers an interesting comparison to William and Anne, and Anne and Wentworth (and Louisa and Benwick - see Bertie's post.)
Rescooped by Will Monroe from Austen's Persuasion
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Jonny Continues

Here his guide looks at Chapters 11 and 12


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Hippo's curator insight, April 29, 2013 3:36 AM

CHAPTERS 11-12 Summary:

Lyme trip (no pun intended); Wentworth, Anne and the young Musgroves travel to Lyme-Regis. We meet Captains Benwick and Harville, and upon meeting them Louisa gives effusive praise towards seamen. Captain Harville is established as an eminently practical man despite his lameness: “He drew, he varnished, he carpented, he glued; he made toys for the children, he fashioned new netting needles and pins with improvements; and if every thing else was done, sat down to his large fishing-net at one corner of the room”. Captain Benwick, on the other hand, is a man in mourning who reads poetry to indulge his melancholy. Mr Elliot, cousin to the Elliot’s of Kellynch, appears in chapter 12 shortly before chaos breaks out; as Louisa falls from the Cobb and is “taken up lifeless”. Anne suddenly becomes the centre of all action as she takes control of the situation; Captain Wentworth is forced to reconsider his valuation of “strength of character”.

“Hooks” and Other Things Worth Considering

Big Up the Lower Classes! - A miniscule but hugely important detail appears in chapter 11 and is presented through the waiter at the Inn in Bath. Upon being asked if the servant of the  man whom the group has seen (Mr Elliot) is of the Kellynch family, the waiter says:

“No, ma’am,- he did not mention no particular family; but he said his master was a very rich gentleman, and would be a baronight one day.”

A “baronight”- the waiter has no idea what a Baronetcy is. Titles, rank and social standing mean nothing to the lower classes, and the waiter in Bath demonstrates this perfectly. Charles Musgrove is an example of how the nouveau riche (for such, to all intents and purpose, the Musgroves are) care very little for social decorum. Indeed, he is not afraid to scorn aristocratic convention; his reaction to having “promised” to go to the Elliot’s evening party:

“No, I did not promise. I only smirked and bowed, and said the word ‘happy’. There was no promise.” (Ch.22)

shows how he views the “heartless elegance” (211) of the landed gentry to be practically laughable. The more cutting comment that “There was no promise” is suggestive of a deeper criticism of these customs: these are “give and take” invitations, and not the invitations “from the heart” that are seen between the naval officers, and it would appear that Charles is aware of this.

The Navy- It is in these chapters that we see the presentation of the navy developed more than anywhere else in the novel. We have already, in chapter 8, heard Wentworth say “I would bring any thing of Harville’s from the world’s end, if he wanted it”, but in these chapters we see naval friendships in practice. The dinners that take place in Lyme are not ones of “formality and display (91) as Anne is used to, and are instead filled with “great happiness” (92). This friendly community brings back painful recollections for Anne, who considers that “These would have been all my friends” (92) if she had married Wentworth eight years ago. We have already seen the Crofts’ ideal marriage, and here we see what we might call “ideal friendships” among the naval characters.

 

A Kindred Spirit- Bereaved Captain Benwick is glad to have Anne in Bath to discuss literature; something which he is unable to do with his fellow naval officers. Benwick is also a useful parallel to Anne as far as lost love is concerned: ““And yet,” said Anne to herself, as they now moved forward to meet the party, “he has not, perhaps, a more sorrowing heart than I have” (p. 91, ch. 11) It is worth considering why, despite all of the poems and books that are said to be discussed between the two, Austen should give Benwick no direct speech. Obviously a sentimental character, it is possible that Austen did not wish to weigh down the storyline with the heavy melancholy musings that Benwick no doubt would produce were he given the chance. It may simply be, however, as John Mullan suggests, that Benwick’s “outpouring amounts to no real expression of individual feeling or opinion” and is, as such, omitted from the recorded speech of the novel. Captain Benwick, then, despite being the instigator of Captain Wentworth’s becoming “unshackled and free” (and as such being an integral part of the novel’s plot), plays no part in the dialogue that Austen presents us with.

 

Vanity Fair- Not only is the navy an important entity as far as the novel’s plot is concerned, it also serves to emphasise the foppery and superficiality of the landed-gentry. Sir Walter comments at the novel’s opening that the navy “brings persons of obscure birth into undue distinction” (ch.3, p 20); naval figures have no place in “the volume of honour” (p223, ch.24) in Sir Walter’s opinion, and he also thinks that “a sailor grows old sooner than any other man” (p 20). The fact that a “conceited, silly” (p. 6, ch.1) man holds these opinions, however, ironically serves to raise our opinion of the navy. We’ve already seen the happy naval community that is depicted in the novel, and the contrast that it forms with landed-gentry customs make the navy appear far superior. For a practical example of this contrast, look at the transformation of Kellynch hall: full of looking-glasses, ordered gardens (19) and general pomp and ceremony, Kellynch in the hands of the Elliots is a physical representation of Walter and Elizabeth’s vanity. “A prize indeed would Kellynch Hall be to (a tenant),” says Sir Walter in chapter 3, “rather the greatest prize of all”. Compare this to the Crofts in Kellynch in chapter 13: looking glasses removed, doors fixed (by the Crofts themselves), umbrellas by the door, the Crofts turn Kellynch into a home rather than a status symbol. Anne notes herself that “they were gone who deserved not to stay, and that Kellynch-hall had passed into better hands than its owners”. The contrast between the landed-gentry and that navy is integral to the development of both sides in the novel, and serves (we may infer) to portray Jane Austen’s opinions of both circles. The daughter of a country curate, Austen’s family were members of what we might call the “lower” landed gentry; people of a certain rank, but nothing to necessarily boast about. It is also important to remember that two of Austen’s brothers were in the navy, and it is thought that her brother Charles was the inspiration for the character of Admiral Croft.

In Volume 2 we see all of these ideas developed further. We see vanity taken to new extremes; we see the culmination of Anne’s transformation from “only Anne” into an embodiment of “happiness itself; we see the exposure of the novel’s villains. We also see how the novel, not only in terms of the story but also the structurally, comes full-circle.

Rescooped by Will Monroe from Austen's Persuasion
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Jonny Continues

Here his guide looks at Chapters 11 and 12


Via Hippo
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Hippo's curator insight, April 29, 2013 3:36 AM

CHAPTERS 11-12 Summary:

Lyme trip (no pun intended); Wentworth, Anne and the young Musgroves travel to Lyme-Regis. We meet Captains Benwick and Harville, and upon meeting them Louisa gives effusive praise towards seamen. Captain Harville is established as an eminently practical man despite his lameness: “He drew, he varnished, he carpented, he glued; he made toys for the children, he fashioned new netting needles and pins with improvements; and if every thing else was done, sat down to his large fishing-net at one corner of the room”. Captain Benwick, on the other hand, is a man in mourning who reads poetry to indulge his melancholy. Mr Elliot, cousin to the Elliot’s of Kellynch, appears in chapter 12 shortly before chaos breaks out; as Louisa falls from the Cobb and is “taken up lifeless”. Anne suddenly becomes the centre of all action as she takes control of the situation; Captain Wentworth is forced to reconsider his valuation of “strength of character”.

“Hooks” and Other Things Worth Considering

Big Up the Lower Classes! - A miniscule but hugely important detail appears in chapter 11 and is presented through the waiter at the Inn in Bath. Upon being asked if the servant of the  man whom the group has seen (Mr Elliot) is of the Kellynch family, the waiter says:

“No, ma’am,- he did not mention no particular family; but he said his master was a very rich gentleman, and would be a baronight one day.”

A “baronight”- the waiter has no idea what a Baronetcy is. Titles, rank and social standing mean nothing to the lower classes, and the waiter in Bath demonstrates this perfectly. Charles Musgrove is an example of how the nouveau riche (for such, to all intents and purpose, the Musgroves are) care very little for social decorum. Indeed, he is not afraid to scorn aristocratic convention; his reaction to having “promised” to go to the Elliot’s evening party:

“No, I did not promise. I only smirked and bowed, and said the word ‘happy’. There was no promise.” (Ch.22)

shows how he views the “heartless elegance” (211) of the landed gentry to be practically laughable. The more cutting comment that “There was no promise” is suggestive of a deeper criticism of these customs: these are “give and take” invitations, and not the invitations “from the heart” that are seen between the naval officers, and it would appear that Charles is aware of this.

The Navy- It is in these chapters that we see the presentation of the navy developed more than anywhere else in the novel. We have already, in chapter 8, heard Wentworth say “I would bring any thing of Harville’s from the world’s end, if he wanted it”, but in these chapters we see naval friendships in practice. The dinners that take place in Lyme are not ones of “formality and display (91) as Anne is used to, and are instead filled with “great happiness” (92). This friendly community brings back painful recollections for Anne, who considers that “These would have been all my friends” (92) if she had married Wentworth eight years ago. We have already seen the Crofts’ ideal marriage, and here we see what we might call “ideal friendships” among the naval characters.

 

A Kindred Spirit- Bereaved Captain Benwick is glad to have Anne in Bath to discuss literature; something which he is unable to do with his fellow naval officers. Benwick is also a useful parallel to Anne as far as lost love is concerned: ““And yet,” said Anne to herself, as they now moved forward to meet the party, “he has not, perhaps, a more sorrowing heart than I have” (p. 91, ch. 11) It is worth considering why, despite all of the poems and books that are said to be discussed between the two, Austen should give Benwick no direct speech. Obviously a sentimental character, it is possible that Austen did not wish to weigh down the storyline with the heavy melancholy musings that Benwick no doubt would produce were he given the chance. It may simply be, however, as John Mullan suggests, that Benwick’s “outpouring amounts to no real expression of individual feeling or opinion” and is, as such, omitted from the recorded speech of the novel. Captain Benwick, then, despite being the instigator of Captain Wentworth’s becoming “unshackled and free” (and as such being an integral part of the novel’s plot), plays no part in the dialogue that Austen presents us with.

 

Vanity Fair- Not only is the navy an important entity as far as the novel’s plot is concerned, it also serves to emphasise the foppery and superficiality of the landed-gentry. Sir Walter comments at the novel’s opening that the navy “brings persons of obscure birth into undue distinction” (ch.3, p 20); naval figures have no place in “the volume of honour” (p223, ch.24) in Sir Walter’s opinion, and he also thinks that “a sailor grows old sooner than any other man” (p 20). The fact that a “conceited, silly” (p. 6, ch.1) man holds these opinions, however, ironically serves to raise our opinion of the navy. We’ve already seen the happy naval community that is depicted in the novel, and the contrast that it forms with landed-gentry customs make the navy appear far superior. For a practical example of this contrast, look at the transformation of Kellynch hall: full of looking-glasses, ordered gardens (19) and general pomp and ceremony, Kellynch in the hands of the Elliots is a physical representation of Walter and Elizabeth’s vanity. “A prize indeed would Kellynch Hall be to (a tenant),” says Sir Walter in chapter 3, “rather the greatest prize of all”. Compare this to the Crofts in Kellynch in chapter 13: looking glasses removed, doors fixed (by the Crofts themselves), umbrellas by the door, the Crofts turn Kellynch into a home rather than a status symbol. Anne notes herself that “they were gone who deserved not to stay, and that Kellynch-hall had passed into better hands than its owners”. The contrast between the landed-gentry and that navy is integral to the development of both sides in the novel, and serves (we may infer) to portray Jane Austen’s opinions of both circles. The daughter of a country curate, Austen’s family were members of what we might call the “lower” landed gentry; people of a certain rank, but nothing to necessarily boast about. It is also important to remember that two of Austen’s brothers were in the navy, and it is thought that her brother Charles was the inspiration for the character of Admiral Croft.

In Volume 2 we see all of these ideas developed further. We see vanity taken to new extremes; we see the culmination of Anne’s transformation from “only Anne” into an embodiment of “happiness itself; we see the exposure of the novel’s villains. We also see how the novel, not only in terms of the story but also the structurally, comes full-circle.

Rescooped by Will Monroe from Austen's Persuasion
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Jonny Wiles' revision guide

...in which Jonny considers some significant points regarding chapters 6-10


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Hippo's curator insight, April 29, 2013 3:35 AM

CHAPTERS 6-10 Summary:

The Crofts move into Kellynch, the Elliots settle in Bath. A party takes place at the Mr and Mrs Musgrove (senior)’s house which Anne avoids attending by offering to look after Mary’s children. Mary reports to Anne that Captain Wentworth “was not very gallant by (her)” the next day. In chapter 8 Anne and Wentworth are finally forced to meet each other again, and he begins his relationship with the Musgrove sisters. Discussion breaks out as to which of the two sisters is preferred by Wentworth; Charles Hayter, the Musgroves’ cousin and Henrietta’s suitor, is roundly dismissed by Mary. Being called upon to look after the young Musgroves again, Anne has young Walter climbing over her when she is “rescued” by Captain Wentworth. Chapter 10 describes the pivotal November walk, where Anne accidentally overhears the painful development of Wentworth’s relationship with Louisa Musgrove.

“Hooks” and Other Things Worth Considering:

Autumn- This section of the novel occurs during the late stages of the year 1814, in the autumn of the year. This motif is reflective of the “autumn” of Anne’s romantic prospects (see earlier section on age), and emphasises the “second spring” of beauty that Anne experiences as the novel progresses. As we move into the new year (1815) we see the development of Anne’s looks and her new-found strength of character, and so just as we see the physical spring of the novel taking place, so to do we see the metaphorical spring of Anne.

 

Physicality- We see several instances of physical interaction between Anne and Wentworth; the first of these occurs in chapter 8 where Anne is “released” from young Walter’s grasp by Wentworth. Another is in chapter 10 where he helps Anne into the carriage: “Yes, - he had done it”. It is these physical acts that act as reassurances (or at least glimmers of hope) for Anne, and in them she thinks she sees Wentworth’s unspoken continued affection. It is interesting also that the most physical moment of the novel (Louisa’s fall on the Cobb) gives rise to Wentworth’s becoming “unshackled and free”, and ultimately allows Anne and Wentworth to renew their love. Physicality, then, is a driving force for the novel as a whole, and these fleeting moments of physical contact that pass between Anne and Wentworth should not be ignored when considering the development of their relationship.

 

Anne and Nuts- Irony is as rife in Persuasion as it is in any other Austen novel, and there is no irony more bitter than that seen on the November walk. Consider Wentworth’s description of the hazelnut when he talks with Louisa:

 

“A beautiful glossy nut which, blessed with original strength, has outlived all the storms of autumn!”

The nut is, of course, the perfect metaphor for Anne, but Wentworth doesn’t see this. It is Anne’s strength of character (which, we must remember, is the trait which Wentworth initially prizes above all others) which allows her to outlive the “storms” of the eight years that she has spent apart from him. This is not the only time that Wentworth inadvertently describes Anne: in chapter 7 he describes his ideal woman to Mrs Croft as one with “A strong mind, with a sweetness of manner”. It cannot be a coincidence that one of the first things that we are told about Anne is that she has “an elegance of mind and a sweetness of character”. Right from the novel’s opening we see Anne and Wentworth’s compatibility, but in true Austen style the characters take a long time to see the irony that is obvious to the reader.

An Ideal Husband (and Wife)- In the Crofts we see an ideal marriage, and one that is unlike any other in Austen’s writing (for contrasts see Mr and Mrs Palmer in Sense and Sensibility or the Grants in Mansfield Park). In chapter 10 we see Mrs Croft “coolly taking the reigns” of the Croft’s carriage to prevent them from “running foul of a dung-cart” or hitting a post, and, as Anne notices herself, this is “no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs”. Mrs Croft takes an equal footing in looking over the documents that are necessary for the renting of Kellynch, and she “gives (the admiral) a hand” to move the abundance of looking-glasses from Sir Walter’s old dressing room. Few are the occasions when we see the Crofts apart from each other, even when the admiral is at sea Mrs Croft usually accompanies him, Mrs Croft declares that “nothing can exceed the accommodations of a man of war” while talking at the Musgroves’ gathering. The most interesting and, perhaps the strongest, indication of the Croft’s mutual attachment is the way that they address each other- Admiral Croft has no scruple with calling Mrs Croft “Sophy” in public, and Mrs Croft addresses her husband frequently as “my dear admiral”. The use of Christian names does not often occur in Persuasion, nor would it have occurred often in 19thCentury England; it is used in the novel as either a term of endearment (the Crofts) or patronisation (Elizabeth seems to be allowed to call Mrs Clay “Penelope”, while Mrs Clay can get away with no more than “Miss Elizabeth”).Compare this ideal relationship to other marriages in the novel: Mr and Mrs Elliot were “wretched together”; Mr and Mrs Smith were far from happy (more on this later); Mary and Charles bicker incessantly; Mr and Mrs Musgrove hardly have an equal say in their marriage (compare Mrs Musgrove’s excessive talking with the fact that Mr Musgrove says nothing at all in the entire novel). The latter of these are set against the Crofts beautifully in chapter 23:

“That is precisely what I was going to observe,” cried Mrs Croft, “I would rather have young people settle on a small income at once, and have to struggle with a few difficulties together, than be involved in a long engagement. I always think that no mutual-”

“Oh! Dear Mrs Croft,” cried Mrs Musgrove, unable to let her finish her speech, “there is nothing I so abominate for young people as a long engagement…”

Notice how Austen cleverly has Mrs Musgrove interrupt Mrs Croft on the word “mutual”; the Musgroves’ marriage is far from a “mutual” attachment, and this conversation serves to emphasise the discord of their marriage compared to that of Admiral and Mrs Croft.

Consider also the fact that the Crofts consider their relationship with the Elliots as “a mere matter of form” and one that is “not in the least likely to afford them any pleasure”. The Crofts are totally unconcerned with the “elegant stupidity” of the aristocratic characters; they concern themselves only with the people who they truly like. No calling cards or “give and take” invitations for the Crofts: the Admiral strolls through Bath greeting those whom he likes, and avoiding those he does not. This unconcern with form and “proper nothings” shows just how content the Crofts are with their situation in life; they live to make each other happy and to enjoy the time that they have while they are not at sea.

 

What’s most amazing about the Crofts is the fact that they seem to be even happier than Anne and Wentworth. After the gathering at the Great House in chapter 7, we are told that “There had been a time when… (Anne and Wentworth) would have found it most difficult to cease to speak to one another. With the exception, perhaps, of Admiral and Mrs Croft, who seemed particularly attached and happy… there could have been no two hearts so open.” (p59-60). Even at the height of their prior attachment, Anne and Wentworth’s love was not equal to that of the Crofts. The image of this perfect marriage, then, is what we may assume that, after the ending of the novel, the newlyweds will model their relationship on.