Persuasion: Volume II – Chapter 7,8

Summary, Chapter VII, pages 164-171The next day, Anne is out walking with Mr. Elliot, Elizabeth, and Mrs. Clay when a downpour necessitates Elizabeth to get a ride in Lady Dalrymple’s carriage. There is room for only one more lady, and Elizabeth insists Mrs. Clay be that lady. While the ladies wait inside a shop for the arrival of the carriage, and for Mr. Elliot’s return from an errand, Anne is thrown into a flutter when Wentworth enters the shop. He seems embarrassed upon seeing her again, although he tries to make conversation. Elizabeth pointedly refuses to acknowledge him, which embarrasses Anne. After Elizabeth and Mrs. Clay leave in the carriage, Wentworth offers Anne his umbrella, but Mr. Elliot appears to claim her. Wentworth recognizes him as the man who admired Anne at Lyme.After Anne leaves with Mr. Elliot, Wentworth learns from some friends he is with that Mr. Elliot is always in the company of the other Elliots and seems to prefer Anne above them all.Anne is not herself after seeing Wentworth. She longs to know how long he will be in Bath. She is both relieved and ashamed when Lady Russell, like Elizabeth, chooses not to “see” Wentworth on the street one day.When Anne is invited to attend a concert as one of Lady Dalrymple’s party, she determines to speak to him. “If she could only have a few minutes conversation with him again, she fancied she should be satisfied; and as to the power of addressing him she felt all over courage if the opportunity occurred.” She must be able to judge his feelings towards her, then act upon them.

AnalysisAlthough Anne is surrounded on all fronts by people who would not approve of Wentworth, she is determined that this time she will not be persuaded to give up his friendship. She plans her strategy and summons what weapons she has—mere words and looks—to do battle for Wentworth’s heart. Social restrictions and her family prevent her from acting rashly; she must be subtle, but she must make herself understood by Wentworth.

Summary, Chapter VIII, pages 171-180The night of the concert, Anne and her party await Lady Dalrymple’s arrival. When Wentworth walks into the room alone, Anne immediately greets him, despite scowls from Sir Walter and Elizabeth. “Their being in the back ground was a support to Anne; she knew nothing of their looks, and felt equal to every thing she believed right to be done.” Anne is pleased when Sir Walter actually acknowledges Wentworth with a bow, and Elizabeth offers a slight curtsey. She has accomplished one objective: to let Wentworth know that she does not care what her family thinks anymore.She and Wentworth talk of Lyme and of Louisa’s engagement to Benwick, but Wentworth surprises Anne by saying that he does not think Louisa is the equal of Fanny Harville, and that he cannot understand how Benwick can so soon forget Fanny. A man who truly loves a woman, he says, does not so soon recover when he loses her. Anne, upon hearing this confession, “was struck, gratified, confused, and beginning to breathe very quick, and feel an hundred things in a moment.” She does not know what to say, so she asks if he was at Lyme for long after Louisa’s accident. He replies that he was there almost a fortnight and did a great deal of walking and admiring the beauty of the place. He remarks that she probably has terrible memories attached to the place. She replies that indeed she does not. “‘The last few hours were certainly very painful,’ replied Anne: ‘but when pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure.’”At that moment, Anne is occupied with having to greet Lady Dalrymple, and when she turns back to Wentworth, she finds him gone. As Anne goes into the concert room, she glows with happiness from her conversation with Wentworth. She thinks—she hopes—that his manner and words indicate that he is still in love with her, that he wants another chance with her.Mr. Elliot maneuvers so that he is able to sit with Anne. He claims to need her help interpreting the Italian being sung, and they bend together over a handbill to read its contents. He compliments Anne on her proficiency and, when she denies any such thing, he says that he has heard others speak of her accomplished and modest character, too. In fact, he has for years heard of Anne from a close friend, yet he will not tell her who.Anne looks up to find that Wentworth has been observing her with Mr. Elliot. At intermission, while Mr. Elliot fetches refreshments, Anne remains in her seat hoping that Wentworth will come to her. For the second act, Mr. Elliot is claimed by Elizabeth, leaving Anne with an open seat next to her. She hopes Wentworth will take it. He does come speak to her, but his manner is more stilted than before; Anne thinks Lady Russell and perhaps her father are intimidating him. Mr. Elliot begs her to interpret some more Italian, and when Anne turns back to Wentworth, she find him uttering a curt good evening and bowing to leave. She says that surely the next song is worth staying for, and he replies that “ ‘there is nothing worth my staying for’” before leaving the room. Anne is stunned to realize that he is jealous of Mr. Elliot. How, she wonders, can she tell him that she does not love Mr. Elliot?AnalysisAnne has to delicately maneuver through her social situation in order to make her love known to Wentworth. Unlike a man, she cannot simply declare her love out loud or make the proposal herself. And because she is an Elliot, she must proceed very carefully, finding a way to make her love known without embarrassing her family or drawing their wrath down on her. Her strategy is to use all she has at hand, the social tools of conversation and body language, to reach Wentworth without arousing her family’s suspicion.Words, too, are all that Wentworth has to convey how he feels to Anne. Their conversation is, on the surface, perfectly normal, but each intends more meaning to their words. Wentworth is trying to convey that Louisa was nothing to him and that, unlike Benwick, he has not so soon forgotten the first woman he loved. Anne is trying to convey that all these years she has suffered because of giving him up, but that suffering has only deepened her love. Unfortunately, body language throws their understanding of one another into confusion. Mr. Elliot’s attention to Anne, and her ease with Mr. Elliot, are not lost on Wentworth.