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Persuasion | Chapter 18 (Volume 2, Chapter 6) | Summary

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Summary

After a month in Bath, Anne, curious about Uppercross and Lyme, receives a letter from Mary courtesy of the Crofts, who deliver the letter upon coming to Bath for the admiral's health. Mary tells Anne that Louisa Musgrove and the Harvilles are at Uppercross and that Louisa and Captain Benwick are engaged.

Astonished, Anne steels herself to answer her father's and sister's questions about Mary's letter. Most concerned with how to deal with the Crofts, they discuss social responsibilities and decide against introducing the Crofts to Lady Dalrymple. Anne wonders how Captain Wentworth and Louisa's romance ended. Later, while alone in her room, Anne considers others' feelings first (hoping Louisa's transition from Wentworth to Benwick was friendly), displaying evidence of her good nature. Only then can Anne think of herself, and her "heart beat ... brought the colour into her cheeks when she thought of Captain Wentworth unshackled and free."

More than a week later Anne sees Admiral Croft in town. While escorting her home the admiral confides that he and Mrs. Croft are surprised by the news because they believed Captain Wentworth was indeed pursuing Louisa. The admiral adds that his brother-in-law did not seem the least unhappy about Louisa's engagement and asks Anne whether he and his wife should bring Wentworth to Bath to increase his chances of finding a wife.

Analysis

The Crofts' arrival in Bath improves Anne's mood, as it foreshadows Captain Wentworth's arrival. Even though Anne is too "ashamed" to explore her feelings, her blushing and quickened heart have revealed her feelings as Wentworth's sudden availability advances the plot. From this point on the titular theme takes on a new meaning: How can Anne persuade Captain Wentworth that her feelings for him have not changed when both social convention and her own reticence prevent her from speaking openly?

A walk adds tension to the chapter. As Admiral Croft and Anne head home, he mentions he has something to tell her. The tension thickens as they maneuver busy streets, greeted by, it seems, everyone they pass. Because he waits for privacy and Anne is too polite to "press," she and readers must wait, raising tension. The chapter ends with Admiral Croft, determined to create a better opportunity for Wentworth's romantic affairs, asking Anne whether he should invite his brother-in-law to Bath—a cliffhanger.

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