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Persuasion | Chapter 11 (Volume 1, Chapter 11) | Summary

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Summary

As the date of Lady Russell's return approaches, Anne's anxiety grows. At Lady Russell's home in Kellynch, Captain Wentworth would be closer geographically and the chances of him and Lady Russell meeting might be greater. Yet, Anne doubts she would see him more in Kellynch because he spends most of his time at Uppercross.

After a two-day absence, Wentworth returns from visiting a friend in Lyme. Because of his praise of the sea town, Louisa organizes an overnight trip for Anne, Wentworth, Charles Musgrove, Henrietta, Mary, and herself.

In Lyme, while Wentworth visits Captain Harville, the rest of the party visits the sea. Wentworth joins them there, bringing Captain and Mrs. Harville and Captain Benwick. Without a thought the Harvilles invite them all for dinner at their small house. In their company Anne's regret deepens, yet she is surprised at her ease in the company of her former fiancé. After dinner Anne engages the shy Captain Benwick in talk about books in the hopes of easing his continuing sorrow over the death of his fiancé, Captain Harville's sister. Anne does not see his grief as permanent, believing that both his youth and another love interest will serve him well.

Analysis

The introduction of Captain Harville, who has suffered a severe wound that has left him injured, creates conflict for Anne's character. His presence is a reminder of the dangers sailors encounter and reinforces the obvious fear that Anne has for Wentworth's safety. In her and Wentworth's estrangement, she followed "navy lists and newspapers." At an earlier party where he speaks to everyone but her (the only person with knowledge of the navy), she overhears him mention almost "being lost." Her shudder goes unnoticed but, at the same time, displays her continual concern.

Around the Harvilles, Anne, who is "hardened" to her father's neglect, witnesses "such a bewitching charm in a degree of hospitality so uncommon, so unlike the usual style of give-and-take invitations, and dinners of formality and display." The repetition of so and the use of similar words like such emphasize that Anne deeply likes her hosts. Yet she wishes not to know them better for her own well-being, as she thinks "these would have been all my friends" and fights off a "lowness." Notable is Anne's assumption of responsibility for helping Captain Benwick overcome his grieving over the death of his fiancé.

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