Time, Change and Continuity

Anne Elliot’s progress is not from delusion to reality. She has passed that stage before the opening of the novel, but aspires to the role of romantic heroine of sensibilities rather than that of the stoic. This is a reversal of the conventional Austen heroine progression, undermining our fictional expectations and disturbing traditional tales of development and education. There is a disturbance of the norm, "the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning". This highlights the importance of time in the novel; issues of change and continuity permeate the novel’s design. In the home of the Musgroves in chapter V, the development of attitudes is pinpointed within familial unity as the parents and their offspring differ in manners and ideals:

"The Musgroves, like their houses, were in a state of alteration, perhaps of improvement. The father and mother were in the old English style, and the young people in the new. Their children had more modern minds and manners" (Chapter V)

It is a love story imbued with the pains of the past and the hopes of the future. The past can be seen as manifesting itself in the present, the tensions and sense of loss motivates the couple, who appear looking backward and forward simultaneously and their relationship has both progressive and regressive tendencies.

In Chapter VII Captain Wentworth arrives at Kellynch Hall and becomes a frequent visitor to the Musgroves, winning the affections of the both sisters Louisa and Henrietta. His first meeting with Anne is in public in a busy scene in the Cottage and is limited to a limited bow and a curtsey. In the half-met eye, Anne is left agitated, memories flooding back on her and desperate to read what his actions meant,

" Now, how were his sentiments to be read? Was this wishing to avoid her?" (chapter VII)

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