Thursday, July 9, 2015

Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along: Day 4



Welcome to Day 4 of the Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along! You can follow along on this three-week discussion of Persuasion and The Prayers of Jane Austen by checking out the read-along tag or by clicking the button in the sidebar.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 7 and 8 of Persuasion. If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts below! Otherwise, feel free to check in later today after you've had a chance to read today's chapters. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

P.S. If you're a blogger, please feel free to put together your own post using the button above and linking back to the Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along tag, if you'd prefer to participate in the discussion that way. :)

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Persuasion Chapters 7 and 8

Discussion Format: One quote to ponder, one observation, and one question for each day's reading.

Quote to Ponder

"There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement."

Observation

These chapters are heartbreaking - as well as frustrating, seeing the feelings of both sides the way we do! Austen describes the lingering pain and awkwardness of unrequited love so authentically. And yet there's hope below the surface in the way that Captain Wentworth can't find Anne's equal, and in the way that Anne can't quite ignore his presence and the memories it brings. It's interesting to me how sure they are of the other's feelings, and yet how very wrong they are in actuality.

Perception determines so much of our judgments (my dad often says, "Perception is everything"), and yet, Austen's observations of human nature remind me of how much goes on within another person's mind and heart that we're unaware of.

Question

What are your first impressions of Frederick Wentworth, as he's portrayed in these two chapters? Do you think he's justified in his caution and aloofness around Anne?

Giveaway!

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Which quote to ponder, observation, and question/response would you like to share?

Join us tomorrow for a special discussion of one of Jane Austen's prayers! (If you'd like to read along, we'll be chatting about Part I of The Prayers of Jane Austen.)

11 comments:

Maggie Jackson Nambot said...

"There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement."

This is perhaps my favorite quote from this book, because I love heartbreaking stories and this quote is dripping with sadness. Thinking of Anne as perpetually estranged from the man she loves really helps the reader to sympathize with her, especially when you consider all of the other ways in which society at that time would have pitied her: her family's financial situation, Anne's "old maid" status at 28, and how little she is valued by her father and sisters. But the thing I love and admire about Anne is that she still lives and serves others with kindness and compassion.

Captain Wentworth takes on the role of jilted suitor, which I guess is fair, but it must be extremely hard on Anne at the same time! I love finding out why he acts that way later on, though :)

- Maggie @ macarons & paperbacks

Carissa Miller said...

My first impressions of Frederick Wentworth is that he is strong Naval man who is kind of weary and looking to settle down, he just doesn't know how. I think that Fredrick Wentworth is justfied in his caution around Anne because she did break his heart once. He also doesn't know what the future holds or rather or not Anne still feels the way she did before. More importantly he most likely realizes that they are both older now and things have changed. But his aloofness is not justified, because despite his feelings or lack of feelings he still should be polite to all of the guest.

Julie said...

Quote: "She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity."

Kind of sums up the whole story in those two sentences.

A couple of others that caught my eye and either made me huff or made me chuckle:

"It was no insignificant barrier, indeed. Mrs. Musgrove was a comfortable substantial size, infinitely more fitted by nature to express good cheer and good humour than tenderness and sentiment"

That had me laughing. Poor Anne being separated from Mr. Wentworth by Mrs. Musgrove's girth! Tee hee! And she seemed relieved about it!

"The child was to be kept in bed and amused as quietly as possible; but what was there for a father to do? This was quite a female case, and it would be highly absurd in him, who could be of no use at home, to shut himself up."

This quote was from Charles Musgrove and it made me roll my eyes, but also kind of laugh. The excuses he and Mary came up with in order to justify themselves in leaving their injured son home with Anne were ridiculous. And again, a relief for Anne so she wouldn't have to meet Captain Wentworth.

And one more: " The evening ended with dancing. On its being proposed, Anne offered her services, as usual; and though her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she sat at the instrument, she was extremely glad to be employed, and desired nothing in return but to be unobserved."

Again these two chapters only showed more and more how Anne is mis-treated. I can't help think that a lot of the mistreatment is her own doing. Meaning that she allows these people to walk all over her. Now this is me talking in the 21st century as compared to a woman in the 1800's so I realize that there is a difference, but seriously, Anne needs to grow a backbone because my sympathy for her is getting stretched a bit thin!

Question:
What are your first impressions of Frederick Wentworth, as he's portrayed in these two chapters? Do you think he's justified in his caution and aloofness around Anne?

Maybe justified in caution, but aloofness bordering on rudeness is not justified.


Courtney Clark said...

"Still lives and serves others with kindness and compassion."

That's a proper life goal, isn't it!?

Now you say he has reason to act that way later.... I'm anxious to see exactly why!

Courtney Clark said...

A quote: "But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days." - Mrs. Croft to her husband, Admiral Croft, chapter 8.

That quote made me officially love Mrs. Croft. It seems like she and her husband have a cute & close relationship. And, I loved how her part of that conversation depicted her as forward-thinking when it comes to women's roles.

One more quote I really liked: "I knew that we should either go to the bottom together, or that she would be the making of me." - Wentworth, speaking of his ship, the Asp. Is it just me, or does this seem like an allusion to his broken relationship with Anne -- that they "went to the bottom???"

Amber, I love your observations about perception! It's so true that we often make judgments based on perception instead of fact.

First impressions of Frederick Wentworth? I think he is kind and agreeable, obviously a capable leader as his promotion to Captain indicates, we know he is handsome, but seems just civil to Anne (which makes me sad for how brightly their past relationship seemed to be). But, maybe he is just protective of his heart after she broke it. When he described, in the end of chapter 7, the kind of woman he wished for, I think he is describing Anne completely: "A strong mind, with sweetness of manner."

Amber Stokes said...

Maggie,

It's certainly a heart-breaking quote! Beautiful but tragic. You make some excellent points about looking at the total of Anne's situation - she has so much going against her, in society's view! But as you note, while Anne inwardly grieves and holds her opinions about how things should be done in her family, she remains sweet-spirited and kind to others. I agree with Courtney that "living and serving with kindness and compassion" is a great life goal!

I'll also echo Courtney in being curious about Captain Wentworth's reasons for acting the way he does. :) Even though I've seen two of the movie adaptations and am familiar on a basic level with the story, I confess a lot of details escape me - and there must be more in the book than is explained in the movie!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Carissa,

I love the way you describe your first impressions. :) That sums Captain Wentworth up quite well! And I agree that he has a right to be cautious around Anne - you state some great reasons why. I also agree that all of his reasons for being cautious still don't give him the right to be rude...but I will admit that matters of the heart can make us act in ways we never wanted to!

I confess (unhappily) that I've acted like Wentworth when I've felt jealous or hurt/hopeless. And strangely, I've acted aloof and ignored the very person I would have liked to be with! I think it's the idea that if you act like it's not a big deal to you, then the other person doesn't have the power to humiliate or hurt you. But the truth? It still hurts, and being rude doesn't make it any better. It just made me more petty and ridiculous. :\

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

Yes! That's a great quote to convey Captain Wentworth's view. Although I think he could benefit from trying to sympathize more with where Anne was coming from - being so young and naive and easily influenced.

And LOL...those scenes. You've gotta love Jane Austen's wit. ;) And Charles and Mary were so ridiculous in trying to justify their reasons for going to the party! No "Parents of the Year" prizes for them. :P

That last quote is so sad. I completely agree that Anne could use a bit more of a backbone, for sure, especially among her own family! But at the same time, I can totally sympathize with her in this scene, in wanting to sit on the fringes and cry - to have some privacy to wallow a bit in the hurt and not have to put on a brave face. *sad sigh*

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my question, as well! Again, I agree with your assessment. But while I think Wentworth's rudeness is shameful and not to his credit, I completely understand the emotional turmoil behind it. Sadly, I've acted the same way at times.

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Courtney,

Ooh, I love all these thoughts you've shared!

Admiral Croft and his wife do seem to get along swimmingly, and I love that they have gone on voyages together. :) My great-great grandpa sometimes brought his wife (Amber!) along on some of his sea voyages, as well. So romantic!

And that is a fabulous quote! I do appreciate how she notes women understand that not everything they experience will be perfect and safe. As much as I wouldn't mind someone to love and protect me, "we none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days." :)

That's a fascinating observation about Captain Wentworth's statement! Great parallel. I wonder if that's almost a defensive jab, too...in the sense that he and Anne sunk to the bottom, but this other "woman" in his life (the Asp) was the making of him. His career didn't let him down, even though Anne did. :(

And aww, thank you! It's definitely easy to make decisions based on our perceptions. Sometimes it's hard to know how to get at the fact, especially in matters of the heart... It's not like you can just go up to the person you like and ask, "So, do you really like me, or am I just reading way too much into this?" Or hey, maybe we should ask. ;) Haha.

Love your first impressions of Wentworth! I think he's definitely being protective of his heart - and he's definitely not over Anne, as his ideal woman matches her, as you note. :)

~Amber

Courtney Clark said...

Thank you, Amber!

I think you're right about the parallel!

How cool that your g-g-grandmother was Amber! And what a life it would be to go on voyages in that era. Are you named after her, then? I have a sister named Amber, by the way, so I'm pretty fond of the name, too ;)

Amber Stokes said...

Courtney,

That was an awesome observation about the parallel! Thanks again for pointing it out. :)

And yes, that must have been such an exciting (and scary, at times) life! My grandpa wrote about some of his grandfather's and grandmother's experiences in a book called East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It's so neat to hear of women joining their men at sea!

As for being named after my great-great-grandma, I believe my parents were aware of the familial connection, but they also just liked the name. :) So, I *think* the answer is yes and no!

How cool that you have a sister named Amber! I'm rather fond of the name, too. ;)

~Amber