Unions and Resolutions

The resolution of the Wentworth-Anne love story then begins its move towards resolution from the Mary’s letter imparting the news of Louisa Musgrove and Captain Benwick’s engagement. This letter cleverly intertwines the genre of the epistolary novel (familiar and popular due to the likes of Richardson’s Pamela) and the dramatic interior monologue as we see her silent reactions and struggles to control her appearance of normality:

"Captain Benwick and Louisa Musgrove! It was almost too wonderful for belief, and it was with the greatest effort that she could remain in the room, preserve an air of calmness ..."

Once Wentworth is in Bath, Anne assumes the direction of the relationship and appears far more in control as she manages to steady herself in their first encounter whilst he blushes with embarrassment: "she was betraying the least sensibility of the two" (Chapter XIX). At the concert it is Anne who takes on the active role and steps forward to engage Wentworth in conversation and he makes a comment on romantic fidelity in reference to Captain Benwick and his deceased love Fanny Harville:

"A man does not recover from such a woman! He ought not; he does not".

This speech foreshadows Anne’s later on to Captain Harville on the constancy of women’s love and lasting fidelity. Such a speech can leave her little doubt of his love. Their eyes and looking gestures are concentrated on as a means of communication in the concert hall filled with noise, bustle and the movements of a society. It is a silent language as she searches him out looking around the room for him, then their eyes meet "his eyes seemed to be withdrawn from her" signifying his defensive withdrawal motivated by jealousy of Mr Elliot’s attentions. Even in this communication Anne is limited in her expression as she is forced to turn her eyes to the front, signifying the confinement of articulation of feelings and the masks of behaviour imposed:

"she was forced to seem to restore her attention to the orchestra, and look straight forward" (Chapter XX)

Not only is their love hindered by the constraints of possibilities for expression but they are also separated at the concert by the fuss created over the Darymples

and social duty as Anne must translate for her cousins and act politely to Mr Elliot, "Never had she sacrificed to politeness with a more suffering spirit".

The hindrance of Mr Elliot is removed by the discussion of the choice of evening entertainment, where Anne declares she would rather go to the theatre than the evening affair with the Elliots; thus confirming for Wentworth by implication her lack of concern for Mr Elliot’s presence and lack of romantic ties. The romantic climax of the novel is conducted in a similar scene of frustration of expression as that in the concert hall; it is in public, covert and double meanings resound through the surface layer of speech and gestures take on grander significance. It is the surface conversation of the relative fidelity of men and women with Captain Harville that allows Anne to articulate her constancy and devotion to Wentworth by implication. He listens and is startled by her declaration and her indirect signals motivate him to take up the pen he has dropped to write a proposal. Her linguistic power allows deft enunciation of her love without transgression of social boundaries of acceptability. Honest communication is a rare commodity in Persuasion but her adroit vocalisation of feelings spurs Wentworth to pick up his pen and express his feelings with immediacy and frankness:

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach... ".

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