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Persuasion | Chapter 15 (Volume 2, Chapter 3) | Summary

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Summary

At Camden Place Anne Elliot is received with "unexpected cordiality." Her father and sister cheerily dominate the conversation. Anne listens endlessly to how Bath exceeds their expectations. They claim they have the best house, the most friends and callers. Sir Walter and Elizabeth spend much of the evening talking about William Elliot, who has stayed in Bath for two weeks to reconcile with them. Widowed for six months he has explained, satisfactorily to Sir Walter and Elizabeth, the reason for his seeming rejection of them years ago and the reasons for his marriage. Anne cannot understand his continued calling on the Elliots as he is heir to Kellynch Hall no matter what and most likely has considerably more money than the Elliots, but she senses Elizabeth's romantic expectations and hopes the two marry. When Anne mentions their earlier encounter in Lyme, she is ignored.

After dinner at home her father, sister, Anne, and Mrs. Clay receive a visit from William Elliot, who is polite and charming. He and Anne recognize each other. Anne believes his added company "improve[s] the conversation." Sir Walter and Elizabeth hog his attention, but he frequently talks to Anne, asking about the accident in Lyme. After he leaves Anne is surprised her first day "passed so well."

Analysis

After Anne arrives at Bath her dark mood wanes. While Sir Walter's and Elizabeth's characters remain unchanged—they are still vain, self-centered, and uninterested in Anne—their changed circumstances, especially with the attendance of William Elliot, have improved their moods.

Yet William Elliot's renewed presence in the family deepens the conflict. Anne is suspicious of him. She questions why he has sought them and their approval "after an interval of so many years." From private glances her sister and Mrs. Clay share whenever his name arises, Anne suspects Elizabeth's romantic interest in him has been reawakened. Elizabeth's hope of marrying William Elliot represents upward mobility for them both. However, not only is this union tainted with a history of estrangement but also Anne's encounter with her cousin in Lyme and his attention to her at her father's home in Bath suggest his interest is not in Elizabeth. Modest, self-effacing Anne fails, of course, to recognize that she is desirable to him.

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