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Persuasion > Chapters 1-4

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 26, 2014 02:20PM) (new)

Elliot of Kellynch Hall


(Remember to hide spoilers behind spoiler tags.)


message 2: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ (last edited Nov 01, 2014 12:21PM) (new)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
"Sir Walter Elliott, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation for a distressed one . . ."

I like how much those first few lines tell us about Sir Elliott's character: he's not a well-read person, and position and status are highly important to him.


message 3: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) For this reading, I’m trying to focus on Jane Austen’s technique. What jumped out at me in the first three chapters was the extent to which JA introduces the characters from within Sir Walter’s worldview, with only occasional hints that the author regards that view with opprobrium. Anne scarcely appears—a true reflection of her position in the family, but also maybe something more.

The careless reader could easily be deceived into thinking that the author endorses Sir Walter’s vanity and self-aggrandizing small-town “worldliness,” while the careful reader starts to notice Anne’s superior sense and wants to hear more from her. She’s like the attentive readers’ secret, and we can imagine ourselves to be the only one in on that secret. A masterful way to get the reader into the author’s (and heroine’s) camp!


message 4: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments The opening sentence for it is one of my favorites.

Partly because it's an easy example when discussing info-dumping.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
I was confused and intrigued by the first sentence's reference to patents in connection with the Baronetage, since I'm an IP lawyer. But some research has led me to this: "A land patent is an exclusive land grant made by a sovereign entity with respect to a particular tract of land." I'd never heard of land patents before, so I thought I'd share.


message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments I'd run across the older and more general usage of "patent" before. It helped.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
As Abigail mentioned, we only catch fleeting glimpses of Anne in the first three chapters. In Chapter 4 we find out more about her history with Captain Wentworth. I had to read this sentence twice to parse it out:

"She was persuaded that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home, and every anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears, delays, and disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman in maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it; and this, she fully believed, had the usual share, had even more than the usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense been theirs, without reference to the actual results of their case, which, as it happened, would have bestowed earlier prosperity than could be reasonably calculated on."

Sometimes JA's writing is a mouthful. ;)


message 8: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) I understood the first part of the sentence..up to sacrifice of it but after that I do not know what she is saying :)


message 9: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
LOL Those sentences! I have this terribly presumptuous urge to edit Jane Austen :P

Sir Walter is a wonderful character (in an obnoxious way). One of those tiresome, helpless, pig-headed people on whose behalf friends and relatives expend vast amounts of time, energy and sometimes money.

Lady Russell is interesting; plenty of common sense, but she seems to have some odd blind spots.


message 10: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) That’s a tough sentence! I read somewhere once that her earlier novels were more heavily edited, resulting in the cleaner sentences and more frequent paragraph breaks (as a copy editor, I like to imagine that this is true!). Persuasion seems to have been written in a hastier, more impetuous or impressionistic style, and sometimes gets pretty tangled up.

Maybe the key to the second part of the sentence is understanding the idiom of the time—“had the usual share . . . been theirs.” If we rearrange it to say “if the usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense had been theirs”—i.e., that she would have been happier keeping the engagement even if she’d had to sit by worrying while Wentworth went through all the perils of life in the wartime Navy—it starts to untangle.

But then, as it turned out, he got very lucky in his naval career and made his fortune quickly (because captains who captured enemy vessels got to keep a lot of the value of what was on board the captured vessels—the difference between a heroic naval captain and a pirate in those days was simply what side you were on!). So if she had stayed in the engagement things would have worked out well, despite all the fears that Lady Russell et al. had drilled into her.


message 11: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
I'm loving the references to the Royal Navy--as a Patrick O'Brian fan I know that era and world very well and it's fun to see it from a woman's point of view. It really was legalized piracy, Abigail!


message 12: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ (last edited Nov 03, 2014 08:28AM) (new)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
Yes, Abigail--thanks for taking that sentence on. The problem is partly the structure of the sentence--its length and all of its subordinate clauses--and partly that there are some implied "if's" and other words that you have to read into the text.

But enough about that. It's sad to read how girls were considered past their prime in their mid- to late twenties, although in fairness, Austen does state that many women, like Elizabeth, still look good at that later age. But Anne has been disappointed in life, and it shows. She still holds to the idea that she was right, at that time, to follow Lady Russell's (strong) advice, but I think if I were Anne I wouldn't have been so charitable.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "I'm loving the references to the Royal Navy--as a Patrick O'Brian fan I know that era and world very well and it's fun to see it from a woman's point of view. It really was legalized ..."

The line between pirates and privateers was a thin one!


message 14: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments Remember that Persuasion was published posthumously. She might have given the prose another go-over if not.


message 15: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Can anyone enlighten me on Elizabeth and Anne's financial status if their father were to marry again? Do they have portions from their mother? It seems that most of the estate is entailed. But why should it matter much if Sir Walter marries again, unless the woman is a spendthrift?


message 16: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments If he remarries, their situation is probably pretty much unchanged since they aren't paying for their own support as it is. The only problem with their stepmother would be personal.

What it matters to is the heir, because he could have a son if he had a new wife of child-bearing years.


message 17: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 69 comments I waited to read Jane Austen until I had the knowledge and context. By the time I got to Persuasion, I was a literature major. People wrote more wordy back then. They used several words where we use one or two. Remember there were no photographs and most people couldn't travel outside of their imediate area so books had to tell you what was going on. Dickens anyone?

"She was persuaded that under every disadvantage of disapprobation at home, and every anxiety attending his profession, all their probable fears, delays, and disappointments, she should yet have been a happier woman in maintaining the engagement, than she had been in the sacrifice of it;"

Translation: Given everything that could have happened, she still would have been happier as the wife of Frederick than yielding to persuasion and ending the engagement.

"and this, she fully believed, had the usual share, had even more than the usual share of all such solicitudes and suspense been theirs, without reference to the actual results of their case, which, as it happened, would have bestowed earlier prosperity than could be reasonably calculated on."

If they had been left to their own devices, everything would have turned out OK and better than expected a lot sooner.

Sir Walter is a great character. He reminds me of my dad but my dad is not THAT self=aborbed. This opening scene is funny because a baronet is a commoner. Though he can pass the title on, he can't have a seat in the House of Lords. He doesn't really have any power and I think he thinks his baronetage gives him more consequence than it actually does.

This scene is telling because it shows what his relationship with his daughters will be.

If they had a portion from their mother, it's probably a small one. If their father remarries and has a son, the title passes to the son and not the cousin. If Elizabeth or Anne marries the cousin with the expectation of suceeding their mother and then Sir walter has an heir, then the daughter is out of luck in regards to inheriting the consequence. If Sir Walter dies without an heir, the two unmarried Elliot girls are like the Bennets, at the mercy of a cousin who could turn them out of their home. A brother would need them to keep house and act as hostess until he married.


message 18: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments Fortunately, they have a married sister, and also Lady Russell. They would probably have refuge somewhere.

But it wouldn't be pretty.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
Qnpoohbear wrote: "This opening scene is funny because a baronet is a commoner. Though he can pass the title on, he can't have a seat in the House of Lords. He doesn't really have any power and I think he thinks his baronetage gives him more consequence than it actually does..."

Now that I did not know. Fascinating!


message 20: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments OTOH, it does make him the highest ranking person in his neighborhood, which from his point of view is the important thing.


message 21: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Not to mention the fact that he's by far the handsomest man of his acquaintance!


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments Yup. A fatuously happy big fish in a little pond.


message 23: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 69 comments Mary wrote: "Yup. A fatuously happy big fish in a little pond."

That about sums up Sir Walter in a nutshell. He has consequence in his mind and in the neighborhood. If he went to London, he would be a small fish in a big pong. I can see him being a "toad eater" like Mr. Collins. I think Mary takes after him a lot. Sir Walter and Mary provide the humor in the novel.


message 24: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 69 comments Chapter one annotations:
King James I created the first baronetage in 1611. It is a hereditary dignity but on the lower end of the aristocratic hierarchy. Baronets were ranked above knights but below barons and were technically classes as commonsers. Sir Walter is looking at was published in 1808 by John Debrett.

Tadiana - patents refer to titles. Sir Walter if full of "admiration and respect" for families who titles date back to the early 17th c.

The elevation of lower ranked families to the peerage in the 18th c. was a source of considerable irritation to conservaties such as Sir Walter.

The death of Sir Walter's only son occured on a significant day in history - Guy Fawkes Day and in 1789 the day a French mob stormed the Bastille

high sheriff was the Crown's chief officer within a county. He was elected by local landowners and was in charge of elections and the administration of justice.

The opening scene mimics a scene in Sir Walter Scott's novel Waverley (1814)

Vanity was frequently censured in contemporary political and moral tracts. Sir Walter's vanity aligns him with the dandy set led by George "Beau" Brummell. Sir Walter is 2 years older than the regent and shares with him many of the qualities associated with dandyism.

worsting means getting worse

a chaise is an enclosed carriage drawn by 4 horses but it can be drawn by only 2 -- symbol of Sir Walter's extravagance

The summer of 1814 was a remarkable moment of false security. Napoleon had abdicated in April and exiled to Elba. However, the following spring he escaped and returned to attempt to unite Europe again.

There is only one small part of the estate Sir Walter may sell. The rest must pass in tact to his heir.

Annotations Chapter 2:
Many commentators have seen Sir Walter's precarious financial situation as representative of the social and spiritual disintegration of landed society in the 19th c. Others argue Sir Walter's class still retained a great deal of power and leasing their houses was an old custom.

The "art of pleasing" had negative connotations -- fawming, servile, syncophantic, etc.

complaissance means politeness

Mrs. Clay's name implies social status, malleability that will harden with time


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
Very interesting. Thanks! Who knew there were so many different types of patents?


message 26: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Thanks for those notes, Qnpoobear. I'm especially glad to know the date--the summer of 1814.

All those Naval officers I'm meeting in Ch. 11 are thrown on shore by the 'end' of the war and will actually be glad when Napoleon pulls off his escape and the war resumes since it's a chance for more riches and glory.


message 27: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments Not necessarily. It seems the captains are all managing. Perhaps they wouldn't object at the chance at more -- perhaps they would jump at it -- but perhaps they also wouldn't object to a quiet life on the shore.


message 28: by Hana (last edited Nov 05, 2014 12:45PM) (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Good point, Mary. For some that might be true though this group of friends all seem to relish their life at sea.

Captains who have been 'made' (who have achieved the full rank of Captain, not just the nominal captaincy of a Master and Commander) get half pay when ashore, but it's not a lot of money. Prize money is what can make a Captain and even his Lieutenants really wealthy, as has happened to Captain Wentworth.

I've been reading Patrick O'Brian's sea saga's for ages and that's perhaps colored my view of officers in the Royal Navy.


message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments We know Wentworth made a respectable amount of money. And in less time than could have been expected -- Anne thinks that she would have been happier maintaining her engagement even if she had gotten a worse than usual wait -- but in reality, it would have been shorter.

There's no reason to think that the others are hurting either. True later on (view spoiler).


message 30: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Thanks, Mary!


message 31: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 69 comments This is the only Austen novel that has definitve dates. We know when Anne was born and she's now 27. We know the war is (seemingly) over at last. An officer on half pay would be longing to go back to sea. The Austen boys - Frank and Charles - were always off somewhere. Frank especially rejoiced in a new comission. They both rose high in their profession.

My thoughts:
The description of Anne always breaks my heart. " Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way -- she was only Anne." She was only Anne is so sad. She's so poorly valued as the middle daughter. " A few years before, Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her bloom had vanished early; and as even in its height, her father had found little to admire in her (so totally different were her delicate features and mild dark eyes from his own), there could be nothing in them, now that she was faded and thin, to excite his esteem. " If I disliked Sir Walter instantly, I loathe him now. He's such a horrible father to think that about his middle daughter.

What kind of man is Mr. William Elliot that he won't even visit his relatives? He won't marry Elizabeth and I don't blame him for that. It sounds like he was hunted down and forced into acknowleding the cousinship. Nothing like being pursued to make a man run away.

I can see right away that Anne is the practical one in the family. I think that's why I could always relate to her. My dad is Sir Walter (but more loving).

In Bath last year they said by the time Persuasion takes plae, Bath was no longer a fashionable resort. It was populated by poor people, pretentious people (both like the Elliots) and invalids. (I popped in the Royal Mineral Water Hospital because my dad is a rheumatologist and they were kind enough to show me their exhibit and record books. The treatments for illness involved being wheeled to the baths and dunked in the water, wrapped in wet towels and in extreme cases amputation UGH!). This is why Jane Austen hated Bath and presumably why Anne hates Bath.

What do you think of Lady Russell's persuasion? Was she justified? When I first read the book I felt she was a dreadful snob and how dare she ruin Anne's happiness. Since then, I read in plain English what Lady Russell's unvoiced fear was - that Anne would become a widow. It seems like Anne's father would have refused her dowry and disowned her had she married Wentworth. He was reckless, headstrong and spent his money freely. Were they to marry while he was on shore leave, they would have been homeless! The best they could do is a hovel on the coast in Portsmouth like the Prices in Mansfield Park. I have no doubt Anne would be a better housekeeper and mother than Mrs. Price, but it's still not what she's been used to. she hasn't been brought up to do anything practical. How can she manage a household at only 19? Most girls of her class are directing households of servants, not cooking, cleaning and rearing children on their own. Then when Frederick went back to sea, Anne and the children would be left alone. What if he was killed? How would she live then? I think Lady Russell is worried Anne would have to go on the parish. I think Admiral and Mrs. Croft would help out but Lady Russell didn't know them. I think, now I am old and cautious, that Lady Russell was not wrong! She was in part motivated by snobbery which I don't like but she was also right in fearing for Anne's future.

Sophy Croft is my favorite character in the novel. She's so strong and brave. She loves her husband enough to go to sea with him and to retire on land with him. I don't think I would be brave enough to go to sea during wartime. Nevermind the fact I get seasick....


message 32: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 69 comments More annotations

Ch. 3
Fun fact: The description of the career of Lord St. Ives mirrors that of Lord Nelson, who was the son of a village recotor. Lord Nelson's genius as a commander in 1801 led him to be promoted to a Viscount, a higher title than Sir Walter.

Sir Waltwr and Mrs. Clay's attack on the physical appearance of Admiral Baldwin represent the resistance of the Elliot circle to the normal affects on the body of the normal effects of a normal and active life. The Eliots seee appearance as the surpreme value.

CH. 4
The ediot claims that Austen's description of Wentworth as witty, brilliant, headstrong makes him sound like her rakish characters who seek their own pleasure through luck and risk rather than through virtuous conduct and steady propriety.
(I don't necessarily agree with that because he has a profession and he's made it to Lieutenant without connections, so he obviously has some merit.)

Anne would have felt considerable social and moral pressure to conform to the wishes of her father and Lady Russell. A popular advice book Advice to the Young Ladies,on the Improvement of the Mind (1808), Unitarian minister Thomas Broadhurst explains young women are duty-bound to obey their parents and misery awaits if they follow their own inclinations, especially when it comes to young men.


message 33: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 102 comments My newish copy of Persuasion has footnotes, and for some strange reason, they're driving me crazy! My eyes are invariably drawn to them (it's like having a TV on, even when you're determined not to watch it), and they break up my thoughts. I'm going to go find my old, falling apart copy.


message 34: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments For those who think that Lady Russell's attempts are outrageous, remember why Fanny ended up at Mansfield Park: her parents married improvidently, and were so desperately poor that they gave up a child because of the difficulty of supporting them all.


message 35: by Hana (last edited Nov 05, 2014 01:00PM) (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Wow! The Qnpoohbear Jackpot!!! So many wonderful thoughts to ponder here. I was particularly struck by your analysis of Lady Russell's persuasion; your second, mature view of the situation strikes me as exactly correct, especially--and so sadly--as regards the likely reaction of her father.

Karlyne, I have the same reaction to footnotes--it works when I'm reading non-fiction, but for fiction I generally just want to go with the flow, at least for a first read.

I'm experimenting with double-dipping this time: reading both a print and a Kindle edition and I'm rather liking being able to highlight Kindle notes and then refer back to them as I comment, supplemented with my usual Post-it notes and sticky flags on the hard copy.

I find I dislike 'frequent highlights' on Kindle--they seem distracting and, for me, counterproductive. I detect in myself an interesting, visceral aversion to things that 4,000 people have liked before me :P


message 36: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Mary, you are spurring me on to my next Jane Austen :))


message 37: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ (last edited Nov 05, 2014 01:13PM) (new)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "Mary, you are spurring me on to my next Jane Austen :))"

Mansfield Park was kind of a frustrating read for me; Fanny isn't the easiest of JA's heroines to love. I think you should read (or re-read) Sense and Sensibility with me next. *grins* And we can all watch one of the lovely S&S movies at the same time.


message 38: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
You're on Tadiana. S&S will be another first for me (What can I say? All my 'higher' education was in science and finance!) Glad to be getting another post-doctoral degree in Literature with my Goodreads teachers :)))


message 39: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments Personally wasn't that fond of Mansfield Park myself. Still was a prime example of the issue.


message 40: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 102 comments Tadiana wrote: "Hana wrote: "Mary, you are spurring me on to my next Jane Austen :))"

Mansfield Park was kind of a frustrating read for me; Fanny isn't the easiest of JA's heroines to love. I think you should rea..."


Mansfield Park took me about half a dozen reads before I really began to understand Fanny. She's not easy for us "moderns" to instantly like, because of the difficulty of getting under her skin. But Marianne and Elinor, I think, are both instantly adorable, even in their most annoying moments! (and I haven't seen a film version in ages, either, so I'd be up for it, too)


message 41: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 69 comments My analysis of Lady Russell's actions comes after much studying of the time period, fanfiction that presented it in plain English and a recent read of Mansfield Park. I do think Lady R was prejudiced but she was also genuinely worried about Anne's future. It's a tough call. It wasn't a time period that was kind to women or poor people.


message 42: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Qnpoohbear, this comment from your editor strikes me as really off base: "Austen's description of Wentworth as witty, brilliant, headstrong makes him sound like her rakish characters who seek their own pleasure through luck and risk rather than through virtuous conduct and steady propriety."

I'm up to Chapter 18 and I'm not getting even a small hint of rakishness. Impulsive or judgmental, maybe a bit. Proud and with a bit of a temper--yes probably. But I agree with you that the success he has had in his profession speaks well for him; being an officer in the British Navy in wartime was a huge responsibility for a young man.


message 43: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
Okay, maybe this is what the editor is referring to in Ch. 4 "Captain Wentworth had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession; but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing. But he was confident that he should soon be rich: full of life and ardour he knew he should be soon have a ship....he had always been lucky."

And Lady Russell's view: "His sanguine temper and fearlessness of mind...only added a dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong. Lady Russell had...of anything approaching imprudence a horror."

Of course that's the view from eight years ago and it's really specifically Lady Russell's view.


message 44: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments I observe that whether a man can afford to marry is a common theme in her fiction. Besides Wentworth's past in Persuasion, there is Charles Hayter and his quest for a curacy, and Captain Benwick's backstory was (view spoiler).

Pride and Prejudice, besides the famous first line implying that money is the only possible obstacle, has two men for whom marriage to a woman not an heiress is problematic.

In Northanger Abbey, Isabelle is worried about how much money her fiance will get from his father, and later, (view spoiler).


message 45: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments As W.H. Auden put it:
You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Besides her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of "brass",
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.


message 46: by Hana (new)

Hana | 78 comments Mod
I love that Auden verse!!


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 108 comments Mod
Too funny!


message 48: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 102 comments Mary wrote: "As W.H. Auden put it:
You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Besides her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe t..."


One of my favorites!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 70 comments Great discussion.

There is probably no similarity, but since i just recently read Mansfield Park for the first time, I can't help but think of how Anne is disregarded as was Fanny.

However, Anne, though disregarded, is s full daughter of the house and not some charity case of a poor relation.


message 50: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 48 comments there's quite a bit of similarity. She had a better grip on that kind of character by this book.


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