Persuasion: Volume II – Chapter 5,6

Summary, Chapter V, pages 144-153Anne discovers that an old school friend of hers resides in Bath, and she goes to visit her. She finds her friend, Mrs. Smith, to have changed from a healthy beautiful girl into a sick, poor widow. But Mrs. Smith is still cheerful and welcomes Anne openly. Anne learns that her friend married a man whom she loved but who was extravagant to the point of ruin. After his death, Mrs. Smith was left both childless and almost penniless. She lives in a room at a boarding house and makes a small living by knitting items to sell. A nurse, Nurse Rook, helps Mrs. Smith sell the items among the women she nurses, and she brings Mrs. Smith gossip about the women in Bath. She happens to be nursing Mrs. Wallis at the moment.Anne draws criticism from Elizabeth and Sir Walter over her friendship with Mrs. Smith, who is a nobody in their eyes. When Anne declines to join the rest in an invitation to Lady Dalrymple’s because she is has promised Mrs. Smith a visit, Sir Walter launches into a speech about how Anne is lowering herself to be friends with “‘an everyday Mrs. Smith,’” and a poor widow at that. Anne thinks that she could say the same about his friendship with Mrs. Clay, another widow with no wealth or rank, but she does not say so.In Anne’s absence at the Dalrymples, Mr. Elliot makes a point to speak very highly of Anne to Lady Russell, who becomes convinced that he is seeking Anne’s hand, not Elizabeth’s. She tells Anne that she would love to see her at Kellynch, presiding there as her mother did, only with a man who truly loves her. For a moment, Anne dreams of being lady of Kellynch and the wife of a man such as Mr. Elliot. But then she realizes that, no matter how tempting his proposal, she does not love Mr. Elliot and would never marry him. She finds him polished—too polished—when she much prefers someone more open and spontaneous; in other words, someone like Wentworth.
AnalysisSir Walter and Elizabeth continue to be blinded to the true nature of the people with whom they surround themselves. They condemn Anne, however, for her ability to see beyond a person’s means and name and find true friendship. The difference is that Anne sees people for what they are; Sir Walter and Elizabeth see people as reflections of themselves. Lady Russell sees with a bit more discernment, but she still sees mostly surface qualities. Just as she judged the younger Wentworth based on his prospects—without bothering to really know him—she also judges Mr. Elliot on his prospects as heir to Kellynch.

Summary, Chapter VI, pages 153-164In February, Anne receives a letter from Mary delivered by the Crofts, who have come to Bath. Along with her usual complaints of being bored or neglected and with a pointed hint to be invited to Bath, Mary reports that Louisa has come home and is engaged to Captain Benwick.Anne is astonished. Mary does not say whether Wentworth knows of the engagement or is upset by it. She dares to feel happy that he is “unshackled and free” again. When Anne happens to see Admiral Croft one day, he walks with her and she finds out from him that Wentworth does not seem upset by Louisa’s engagement to Benwick at all; in fact, the Admiral says, Wentworth seems not to have ever wanted her for himself.