Persuasion: Volume II – Chapter 9,10

Summary, Chapter IX, pages 181-199Anne visits Mrs. Smith the next morning to report to her about the concert. Mrs. Smith, however, has already heard about it from a variety of others. She hints that she knows that Anne had a good time, and Anne comes to understand that Mrs. Smith speaks of her evening with Mr. Elliot, not Wentworth. Mrs. Smith confesses that she assumes Anne and Mr. Elliot will soon be engaged, and she begs a favor of Anne. Would she solicit Mr. Elliot’s help for her in a legal matter? She and Mr. Elliot once knew one another.Anne protests that she is not engaged to Mr. Elliot. Mrs. Smith insists, however, that when they are married, Anne will mention her friendship with Mrs. Smith to him. She says, “‘Of course, he cannot be aware of the importance to me. Well, my dear Miss Elliot, I hope and trust you will be very happy. Mr. Elliot has sense to understand the value of such a woman. Your peace will not be shipwrecked as mine has been. You are safe in all worldly matters, and safe in his character. He will not be led astray, he will not be misled by others to his ruin.’”Anne again protests that there is no understanding between her and Mr. Elliot. She almost tells Mrs. Smith about Wentworth, but she stops herself. She asks why Mrs. Smith is so sure Mr. Elliot wants to marry Anne. Mrs. Smith says that she has heard from Nurse Rooke, who found out during her nursing of Mrs. Wallis, that the gossip is that Mr. Elliot is to marry his cousin Anne.Anne asks how Mrs. Smith knew Mr. Elliot. Mrs. Smith confesses that it was Mr. Elliot who led her husband into debt and, ultimately, to his death. At one time, she was a great friend and confidante to the charming Mr. Elliot. She relates how Mr. Elliot knew he was expected to marry Elizabeth and so deliberately married to avoid surrendering his independence. He spoke slightingly of Elizabeth, but Mrs. Smith spoke to him admiringly of Anne. That is how he had heard of Anne before.Mrs. Smith produces papers belonging to her late husband, and in them is a letter Mr. Elliot has written to her husband describing his disdain for the Elliots. Mrs. Smith also says that she knows that Colonel Wallis alerted Mr. Elliot to general gossip about Mrs. Clay’s designs on Sir Walter, and that Mr. Elliot told the colonel that he aimed to marry Anne and “‘have it put into the marriage articles when you and Mr. Elliot marry, that your father is not to marry Mrs. Clay.’”Mrs. Smith further tells Anne that her husband had appointed Mr. Elliot as executor of his will, yet Mr. Elliot cannot be bothered to help Mrs. Smith recover some property that she believes remains in her husband’s estate and that will support her—if she can only get his help. That is why she thought that if Anne married Mr. Elliot, she could persuade him to help her friend. His refusal to help the wife of the man who had many times loaned him money tells Anne all she needs to know of Mr. Elliot’s true character. She realizes that she might have been persuaded to marry Mr. Elliot—if she did not hold out hope for Wentworth.
AnalysisAnne’s instincts about Mr. Elliot have proved correct; she detected something not quite sincere about his speech and manners, and now she has proof that he was insincere. The power of a handsome face and pleasing manners almost swayed Anne as much as they had her father, her sisters, and Lady Russell. The temptation to take her mother’s honored place at Kellynch was persuasive, too. If not for her hope of winning back Wentworth, she might have married Mr. Elliot and discovered, too late, that his sterling social qualities hid a tarnished character.

Summary, Chapter X, pages 199-215Anne returns to Camden-place to find that she has missed a visit by Mr. Elliot, but that Elizabeth has invited him to come again that evening. Mrs. Clay says she has persuaded Elizabeth that Mr. Elliot was most persistent in hoping for such an invitation, and Elizabeth says she will take any opportunity to have her father and Mr. Elliot together. Mrs. Clay hints that Mr. Elliot comes to see Elizabeth, not Sir Walter, and Elizabeth demurs. Anne watches this conversation with interest, noting how well Mrs. Clay conceals any alarm she might have that Mr. Elliot is threatening her schemes with Sir Walter by marrying one of his daughters.When Mr. Elliot comes, his attentions to Anne repulse her. She now sees all that is behind his words and actions to herself and her family. She welcomes the news that he is going out of town for two days.While he is gone, Anne strikes out to tell Lady Russell all about his treachery, but she is delayed in leaving because Mrs. Clay is also going out, and Anne does not wish to be forced to walk with her. Her delay causes her to hear both Elizabeth’s and Sir Walter’s private sentiments that Lady Russell is boring and not all that handsome of a woman. A knock at the door ushers in Charles and Mary, who have come to Bath with Mrs. Musgrove, Henrietta, and Captain Harville. Henrietta is to buy her wedding clothes.Anne goes back with Charles and Mary to see Henrietta and Mrs. Musgrove at their lodgings. Charles leaves, then comes back with Harville and Wentworth. Anne fears that Wentworth still is persuaded that she is to marry Mr. Elliot, and she hopes to find a way to let him know that she is not. When Mary spies Mrs. Clay from the window, Anne looks and sees that Mrs. Clay is with none other than Mr. Elliot, who is supposedly out of town. The two seem to be meeting on purpose.Charles announces that he has procured theater tickets for all of them, including Anne and Wentworth, but Mary chides him for forgetting that many of them are expected in Camden-place that evening, to be introduced to Lady Dalrymple and Mr. Elliot. Charles says he would rather see the play than meet Mr. Elliot. As he says this, Anne notes that Wentworth is judging whether she feels the same way or not. Anne finds a way to say that, if she had her preference, she would rather attend the play. “She had spoken it; but she trembled when it was done, conscious that her words were listened to, and daring not even to try to observe their effect.”Captain Wentworth maneuvers so that he may talk with Anne. He remarks that she did not used to like evening parties, but perhaps she has changed and does so now. She protests that “‘I am not so much changed.’” Wentworth says that “‘It is a period, indeed. Eight years and a half is a period!’” Before Anne can determine what he means by such a remark, the party prepares to walk out.However, Sir Walter and Elizabeth arrive, and all preparations for the walk cease. In fact, the room takes on a decided chill in their presence, which mortifies Anne. She is relieved, however, when both Sir Walter and Elizabeth graciously acknowledge Wentworth, and Elizabeth actually invites him to be part of the party the next evening. His is, after all, a wealthy and handsome young man who might look well at her gatherings. Wentworth, however, looks at the invitation with disdain, and Anne is further mortified when Mary loudly observes that Mr. Wentworth seems delighted to have been included in the party.The day ends with Anne back at Camden-place, worrying over whether Mr. Wentworth will come or not the next evening.AnalysisAgain, Anne has only words and subtle gestures with which to speak volumes to Wentworth. He, too, tries to communicate much with only a few awkward words. How much he loves Anne will be determined by whether he chooses to forgive her family of past slights and play the social game in order to win Anne.