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Discussion - Persuasion 2010 > The Novel - The beginning

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message 1: by Megan (last edited Aug 31, 2010 07:04PM) (new)

Megan How about we read up to the chapter that starts "A few days more, and Captain Wentworth was known to be at Kellynch..." (Chapter 7 out of 24 OR Volume 1, Chapter 7 of my editions).


message 2: by P. (new)

P. Delighted!


message 3: by Leshawn (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments I can't wait!


message 4: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Maybe Megan's phrase "the beginning" made me think about how Austen began her stories. The beginnings are interesting!

Has anyone thought about how the Persuasion story begins in the middle of the crisis? (If you have read other Austen novels and are comparing Persuasion or even if you haven't.) The true family problem has already happened, the Elliots must find a way out of having spent their way into financial difficulties. In the process they are trying save face and avoid dampening their great titled name.


message 5: by Megan (last edited Sep 01, 2010 09:57AM) (new)

Megan I agree with you Sarah. The crisis has developed and we all come in somewhere in the middle. Things have all ready happened and decisions have been made and we have to find out what has occurred. There is much"back story" to start this novel

I also think one gets an idea of what is being dealt with right off the bat - the first sentence is Sir Walter "never took up any book but the Baronetage." (None of us here can really grasp the idea of only reading one book!) Through reading this book, he is able to find "consolation in a distressed hour.." 5 paragraphs in one is told "Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character..." which is quite a condemning statement. So we know that this is a man with a very narrow view point who is extremely vain and has led the family in financial ruin!


message 6: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
And you start out with these descriptions of Sir Walter and you think maybe "that can't be very interesting," it then the very narrowness of him and his more similar daughters really IS interesting. I also think that there you see the nervousness of them protecting their image and then this beautiful contrast of calmer Anne--which I won't say more until everyone is a few pages along -- don't want to jump past "beginnings" too far!haha


message 7: by Robin (last edited Sep 01, 2010 10:28AM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments I think we need to get a lot of backstory with this novel. Not only have we come in in the middle, as it were, but we also need to see all the different sorts of Persuasion that Austen is going to talk about.

Sir Walter persuades himself that he is eminently entitled to living in the style he's become accustomed to; Elizabeth persuading herself to think so very, very well of herself; Lady Russell persuading herself that Anne is the only Eliott daughter worth bothering about. Not to mention the fact of her persuading herself that she could advise Anne in such an important matter as her marriage!

(Maybe you can tell, I think Lady Russell a bit officious.)

Then, there's the whole idea of Anne even allowing herself to be persuaded. (I have another problem with that - but we'll save that discussion for another thread. lol) Perhaps for her reader to be able to stomach such an idea, Austen had to start with the rest of the family and their areas of Persuasion.

(And that's a good point, Sarah, about the funneling down of the Eliott narrowness until we meet Anne. :) )


message 8: by Megan (new)

Megan Robin wrote: "I think we need to get a lot of backstory with this novel. Not only have we come in in the middle, as it were, but we also need to see all the different sorts of Persuasion that Austen is going to..."

Exactly! Austen had to let us learn that the Ellots are not the type of people we really want to be around - Sir Walter is so in love with himself, it is painful to witness; Elizabeth also has an extremely high opinion of herself and her "place" in the world and her smugness is awful; and Mary (pardon me) is just an enormous whiner and really needs to be taken out back......Lady Russell who's sole purpose in life seems to be to stage manage everyone else's life. And then there is Anne - so completely different from any of them - my first reaction to her is always one of pity - that she is surrounded by and has to live with these yucky vapid people.


message 9: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments Some phrases from the first page caught my attention this time around as Sir Walter reads the 'Baronetage'. It refers to him "comtemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents" (old aristocracy?) and his contempt for the "almost endless creations of the last century" (new nobility from the 18th century?), while Sir Walter himself is from an "ancient and respectable family".

It seems to me they frame Sir Walter's own decline in fortunes, his snobbishness for the new aristocracy, and it goes without saying, the rising new middle-class of the early 19th century personified in Captain Wentworth and the Admiral Croft. Perhaps Jane Austen is telling us in that sublimely indirect way of hers that Sir Walter is something of a dinosaur facing extinction!


message 10: by Robin (last edited Sep 01, 2010 12:35PM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments @ Megan - Maybe that's why Jane started with describing these people, so we'd feel sorry for Anne, thinking, 'Oh please, let's not read about these idiots - er, Eliotts. Oh please - get her out of there! Oh please, do something for this poor girl! Something's gotta change - please!'


message 11: by Kim (new)

Kim | 181 comments Agree with everything everyone is saying.

Upon my first reading of the novel I felt so much pity for Anne. After re-reading it multiple times I feel as though Anne saw how horrible her family was and realized it would be better for her to just be quiet (and sometimes meek) in the hopes that she would go unnoticed. Maybe she wanted to be unnoticed so that people didn't connect her to her vain father and sister?

I've always wondered what Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Mary were like when Anne's mother was still alive. Was she just as vain? Is the reason Lady Russell is so involved in Anne's life because both Anne and her mother were the only ones with sense?


message 12: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments I'm always distressed to read how much Sir Walter favored the eldest, Elizabeth, and thought of Mary and Anne as of "inferior value". I can't even imagine someone thinking of their children on those terms! Austen describes him as "silly" and "conceited" and he certainly is that to love one child only because she is a mirror image of himself.

For all my conflicted feelings about Lady Russell, this is where I appreciate Lady Russell's appreciation of Anne!


message 13: by Robin (last edited Sep 01, 2010 12:51PM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Birdie wrote: "... For all my conflicted feelings about Lady Russell, this is where I appreciate Lady Russell's appreciation of Anne!"

I agree, but -- why Anne only?

With Sir Walter favoring Elizabeth, and Lady Russell Anne, how left out poor Mary must have felt! No wonder she got the attitude that nobody cared for her.


message 14: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes, Birdie and I bet Elizabeth understand the rules of the society they lived in and aspired to and executed the game the best of the sisters. Elizabeth might have been his one to lean on. With Mary less bright and Anne of a whole different cloth altogether!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Robin wrote: "Birdie wrote: "... For all my conflicted feelings about Lady Russell, this is where I appreciate Lady Russell's appreciation of Anne!"

I agree, but -- why Anne only?"


I think Anne may be the most like her mother, and Lady Russell was close to Lady Elliott, and therefore took Anne under her wing. Things might have been very different if Lady Elliott had lived, at least on the domestic side. I think she was better able to manage the household than Elizabeth was.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan (soconnor031) I really enjoy how Austen explains the different characters in this story. I feel like I get to know them so well. She goes into such detail and it's almost like she is telling a different story each for each of them. Once their personalities are shared she then moves on to the story that involves them all.


message 17: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments Robin wrote: "Birdie wrote: "... For all my conflicted feelings about Lady Russell, this is where I appreciate Lady Russell's appreciation of Anne!"

I agree, but -- why Anne only?

With Sir Walter favoring Eliz..."


Robin, I never thought of that before! You have singlehandedly made me more sympathetic to Mary. I'll be "reading" her with new eyes. :)


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I think Mary was as much of an Elliott snob as Elizabeth. It will take some convincing to make me more sympathetic to her. ;)


message 19: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments Sarah wrote: "Yes, Birdie and I bet Elizabeth understand the rules of the society they lived in and aspired to and executed the game the best of the sisters. Elizabeth might have been his one to lean on. With M..."

Being the favorite of Sir Walter had some advantages, after all! :D Yet what puzzles me in light of those qualities you mention is the fact that at almost thirty Elizabeth remains unmarried. All things considered I would think she would have made an advantageous marriage by now.


message 20: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Birdie,

I wonder if that tells us that Sir Walter and Elizabeth weren't really sought after like they thought they were. That is what I meant earlier, they seem to nervously want to attain all they can, rather than sit back and calmly be attended by society. Do you think their fortune had been slipping for some time and but they would not acknowledge it? Maybe they were just so obnoxious they were hard to take. The only lady in the family who had been sought by worthy suitors (well, worthy in our minds) had been Anne! -- more to come on that of course.

And I wonder too, when Elizabeth's main companion was Mrs. Clay? Where were Elizabeth's society friends?


message 21: by Megan (new)

Megan Birdie wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Yes, Birdie and I bet Elizabeth understand the rules of the society they lived in and aspired to and executed the game the best of the sisters. Elizabeth might have been his one to l..."

Elizabeth should have been married. However - consider her personality and how she is in company - is that someone a young man would be attracted to or wish to pursue? Everyone is inferior in Elizabeth's view except herself and her father and she is very happy to let everyone know that. She has to be better or superior. One wonders how that played in London with the ton or in the neighborhood. Probably not real well.


message 22: by Robin (last edited Sep 01, 2010 06:32PM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Oh, I don't know, Megan. From what I've read/heard of London high society, Elizabeth would have fit right in. ;)

Actually, her attitude reminds me of Emma's opinion early in that book -- that she probably wouldn't marry because she had no incentive: she was already rich, the leader of her little society, beloved by the man in her life (her father). It wasn't until Emma realized she needed Mr. Knightley that she understood the difference.


message 23: by Rachel, The Honorable Miss Moderator (new)

Rachel (randhrshipper1) | 674 comments Mod
Thanks, Megan, for starting this discussion. I have been ill with with flu for the past few days. I hated being away from the group, but I did get to start this wonderful book again. Chapter 7 seems like a good stopping point and we already have good discussion going on! In particular, the characters of Elizabeth and Mary have been touched on interestingly, which surprises me a bit. Can't wait for more!


message 24: by Megan (new)

Megan Rachel wrote: "Thanks, Megan, for starting this discussion. I have been ill with with flu for the past few days. I hated being away from the group, but I did get to start this wonderful book again. Chapter 7 seem..."

I hope you are feeling better! Glad to "see" you back!


message 25: by Megan (new)

Megan Robin wrote: "Oh, I don't know, Megan. From what I've read/heard of London high society, Elizabeth would have fit right in. ;)

Actually, her attitude reminds me of Emma's opinion early in that book -- that she..."


You are correct Robin! (I suddenly had this vision of Caroline Bingley - separated at birth?)

I also agree with your comparison to the early Emma. Elizabeth does have her world all arranged - a man who adores her (with no demands on her personally), lackeys (her sisters and Mrs. Clay) to do her bidding and she is top of the neighborhood social realm. Good point.


message 26: by Rachel, The Honorable Miss Moderator (new)

Rachel (randhrshipper1) | 674 comments Mod
Reading this section, I was struck by a couple of things.

First, in the economy we live in now, it's almost incomprehensible that Sir Walter and Elizabeth are so unwilling to compromise on their comforts that they would rather leave their home and have it rented than truly sacrifice for awhile and stay in the seat of their standing in society that means so much to them.

Also, the backstory of Anne and Wentworth's first engagement is given here. I am a little less sympathetic to Lady Russell reading it this time around and I feel even more for Anne, especially when Austen writes, "Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up."


message 27: by Robin (last edited Sep 02, 2010 09:53AM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments I can't go along with you in the sympathy factor here.

Rachel wrote: "... Anne, especially when Austen writes, "Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up."

Ooo ....

You've now struck on something that, every time I reread Persuasion, just rankles in my soul against Anne --

Where in tarnation does she get off being such a noble martyr??

Did it never occur to her to discuss it with Capt. Wentworth before making such a monumentous decision for the BOTH of them?

Had she never heard of a long engagement?

Grrr ..........


message 28: by Rheanna (new)

Rheanna Christine (rhechristine) | 7 comments I have such a love/hate relationship with this book. Parts of it are sooooooo aggravating and parts of it are so wonderful! I mean, Capt. Wentworth...you can't get any more romantic than that. Its so weird because at times I feel like Anne is this strong, confident girl, simply rolling her eyes at her family and those around her, too nice for her own good, but in other moments I feel like she is this easily influenced, weak little thing. But then of course, I'm looking it through the lens of a modern-times girl. sometimes its hard for me to put myself in the mindset of what it must have been like to live back then with the social pressures, and the actual NEED to find someone that will support you because as soon as your father dies that's it. And unless you have another wealthy brother or family member that is willing to take care of you that's it! Gah, and that lady russell!! sheesh!!!!!!! She's almost as annoying as Mrs. Bennett (although who could be more annoying, LOL).

And Robin, that is such a good comparison...Elizabeth to the early Emmma. that makes perfect sense!!! Isn't it funny how if you really think about it Emma was a total snob, but in a weird, sweeter way.


message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Totally Off Topic --

In my mind, the truly redeeming quality about Emma's character was not only her youth, but her willingness to grow and mature. I relate to her because she's so young and funny and because I look forward to her growing up.

Could that be a part of what made Mr. Knightley fall in love with her? ;)

.... back to Persuasion ....


message 30: by Robin (last edited Sep 02, 2010 11:05AM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Rheanna wrote: "I have such a love/hate relationship with this book. Parts of it are sooooooo aggravating and parts of it are so wonderful! ..."

I know exactly what you mean. :)


message 31: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Reading this section, I was struck by a couple of things.

First, in the economy we live in now, it's almost incomprehensible that Sir Walter and Elizabeth are so unwilling to compromise on their c..."


Yes, it seems she was so persuaded that a marriage between them would be bad for both herself and Frederick. And she was a young girl who could see certainly realities and was afraid they had no chance of happiness without a good fortune behind them.

I think without the large staff and house to maintain, plus the rent from Kellynch, Sir Walt and Elizabeth did believe they could pull off covering up their financial situation in Bath. Maybe they could appear rich much more easily in Bath.


message 32: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (last edited Sep 02, 2010 11:15AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
I think the Emma/Elizabeth comparison was a good one too. We know Emma was raised with more kindness than Elizabeth Elliot, so probably proved a better future outcome. And of course Emma Woodhouse gets points for being able to recognize the wisdom of loving the right kind of man (I just edited this to remove an Emma spoiler, oops!). Poor Elizabeth didn't have that kind of wisdom at all! Now, don't you feel sorry for her! ha ha

Oh, I forgot to say, feel better Rachel!


message 33: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Emma was a definitely a snob, but she was a well-meaning one (most of the time). And she noticed other people. Elizabeth, if forced to notice others, would sniff and say, "What have they to do with me, Miss Elliot of Kellynch Hall?" The only others she "enjoyed" were those who were of use to herself. Emma's patronage of Harriet sprang from a heart which wanted to see Harriet "bettered"; Elizabeth's patronage of Mrs. Clay came from the utter conviction that she deserved the admiration she received from Mrs. Clay. Did Elizabeth ever see her as a person separate from herself? Mrs. Clay's two children are never mentioned again after their one introduction; who was more unfeeling, Mrs. Clay for abandoning them to be with Miss Elliot (and her father), or Miss Elliot herself for never even thinking of them?


message 34: by Robin (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Sarah wrote: "Poor Elizabeth didn't have that kind of wisdom at all! Now, don't you feel sorry for her! ..."

I would, but she won't let me! lol


message 35: by Rheanna (new)

Rheanna Christine (rhechristine) | 7 comments Robin wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Poor Elizabeth didn't have that kind of wisdom at all! Now, don't you feel sorry for her! ..."

I would, but she won't let me! lol"



bahhhahhahahah!!! i don't think she would care if we did ;)


message 36: by Robin (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Karlyne wrote: "Emma was a definitely a snob, but she was a well-meaning one (most of the time). And she noticed other people. Elizabeth, if forced to notice others, would sniff and say, "What have they to do wi..."

Wow, good questions! :)


message 37: by Robin (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Rheanna wrote: "i don't think she would care if we did..."

You're right; we're too far beneath Elizabeth to be worthy of her notice ....


message 38: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I can see being friends with Emma, but Elizabeth? Brrrrr!


message 39: by Robin (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments I know! Like Megan said, she has 'lackeys', and Sarah's right that she has no companions from her level of society.

Does Elizabeth even know how to be friends?


message 40: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes, I don't see Elizabeth E. taking kindly to my pity! True that, true that....


message 41: by Megan (new)

Megan Robin wrote: "I know! Like Megan said, she has 'lackeys', and Sarah's right that she has no companions from her level of society.

Does Elizabeth even know how to be friends?"


No because she doesn't need or want friends - she has minions! ;-)


message 42: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I think Elizabeth is just plain oblivious. She takes it for granted that she is esteemed and revered, and when her self-confidence is shaken a wee bit (as when she notices her age and unmarried state in the Baronetage), she just quickly moves on to something else that won't challenge her perception of herself. Again, brrrrr!


message 43: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments Oh boy! I can see we all agree we don't like Elizabeth! (lol) And that she is the one of "inferior value".

Something I always forget in Persuasion is that Elizabeth is part of the reason of the schizm between Sir Walter and Mr. Elliot because she had to deal with disappointed hopes. Although I always remember that Mr. Elliot married a rich nobody (not good in Sir Walter's eyes) and then talked bad about the family, I forget the fact that Elizabeth had really liked him once and hoped to marry him (being the heir was added luster!), so much so, that Sir Walter went out of his way to ingratiate himself with his heir.

Maybe it's selective memory! :D Even though Elizabeth likes Mrs. Clay, for instance, I have a hard time accepting that Elizabeth can like anyone!


message 44: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments Jeannette wrote: "I think Mary was as much of an Elliott snob as Elizabeth. It will take some convincing to make me more sympathetic to her. ;)"

Aw, Jeannette, I can see you're a tough one! :)


message 45: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Mary and Elizabeth share the family trait of self-centeredness. You get the impression that because Mary lives in a more real, honest environment of children, husband, in-laws (none of whom cater to her caprices and hypochondria) she has a chance to be jolted out of herself. Elizabeth lives in such a rarified air of approval that she'll probably never have reason to change!


message 46: by Birdie (new)

Birdie | 24 comments I think that's very insightful, Karlyne. There is something slightly pathetic about Mary, in my opinion, craving attention and validation. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is as hard as nails.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

You always wonder how Anne ended up being the nice one. She is the middle daughter, if anybody subscribes to those types of theories.

Elizabeth, raised to be Lady Elliot, thinks she is better than everybody. It helps that she lives in a small village.

Mary, the baby, was most likely spoiled. No one expected much from her. She married well and she is trying to be the spoiled baby of the Musgrove family.

Anne, the middle daughter, is dependable, thoughtful. She does what is expected of her. I can't really blame her for doing as Lady Russell advised. She was 19, and she looked to Lady Russell as a mother-figure. It would have been hard to go against her. And, if she had, what would have been her options? She couldn't have married, and the pressure would have been on her to break off the engagement anyway.

Well, there are my feelings about the 3 sisters and how their personalities were formed. :)


message 48: by Robin (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Jeannette wrote: "(Anne) couldn't have married..."

Curious - why do you say that? Her father didn't actually forbid that match. She would have had to overcome difficulties, true, but if she'd had the necessary firmness of mind, I think their marriage would have gone through.


message 49: by Megan (new)

Megan So Sir Walter, Elizabeth and Mrs. Clay head off to Bath and the Crofts lease Kellynch. Anne is sent off to Uppercross where she is everyone's (her sister, her brother-in-law, all the Musgroves)favorite confidant. They all soon meet the Crofts and learn that the "other" brother is soon to arrive.

Anne has all her own memories and inner conflicts about the past which she has kept hidden for years. Now she must appear to be serene normal helpful Anne while everyone speculates about the soon to appear Captain Wentworth - and no one there knows (or cares) about her history with him.

Do you think Anne is almost leading a double life at this point?


message 50: by Robin (last edited Sep 02, 2010 05:39PM) (new)

Robin (robin1129) | 306 comments Megan wrote: "Do you think Anne is almost leading a double life at this point?"

Well, she practically has to, don't you think?


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