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Persuasion | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Chapter 22

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 22 of Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.

Persuasion | Chapter 22 (Volume 2, Chapter 10) | Summary



After Anne returns home she feels relieved to know William Elliot's true character. That evening as he tries to "animate her curiosity again," Anne treats him coldly.

The next morning she prepares to visit Lady Russell to reveal what she has learned, but is interrupted by a surprise visit from Charles and Mary Elliot Musgrove who, together with Mrs. Musgrove, Henrietta, and Captain Harville have come to Bath. Instead Anne accompanies them to the White Hart, where the visitors are staying. Captain Wentworth arrives there and initially avoids Anne.

When Mary sees William Elliot (who is supposed to be traveling) with Mrs. Clay, she fusses about the meeting. Anne, hoping to show Wentworth her cousin means nothing to her, tries to avoid the appearance of paying any special attention to Elliot. After Charles announces he has reserved a box at the theater, Mary reminds him of her father's evening party scheduled for the same time. Following Anne's insistence to Mrs. Musgrove that she "ha[s] no pleasure in the sort of meeting, and should be too happy to change it for a play, and with you," Wentworth approaches her. He speculates that she has not changed much—she still dislikes evening parties and card playing—but says "time makes many changes." Anne cries, "I am not yet so much changed." His response is, "It is a period, indeed! Eight years and a half is a period!"

This interesting conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot. After formally inviting everyone present, including a pointed invitation to Captain Wentworth, to the party the following evening they leave, and the parties disperse. At home Anne confronts Mrs. Clay about Mr. Elliot, who seems momentarily guilty but easily recovers and explains away the encounter.


With Anne's Uppercross and Lyme friends in Bath, she fails to visit Lady Russell, revealing the growing distance between her former and current priorities. Her decisive actions develop the theme of persuasion as she now tries to convince Wentworth, with a delicate balance, that she is the same Anne he loved in the past but with a new firmness of mind. Through careful calculation and poise Anne's words persuade Wentworth to have another revealing conversation with her.

Because Bath is small, the claustrophobic setting creates conflict. When Mary sees William Elliot and tries to interest Anne in the sighting, Anne senses Wentworth watching her and sees "perceiving smiles and intelligent glances pass between two or three of the lady visitors." The pressure and the gossip cause Anne internal distress, but she attempts to remain "cool and unconcerned."

Charles and Mary's argument provides comic relief. As Mary complains in her normal fashion, calling her husband "abominable," he pokes fun at her. Evening parties, he says, are "never worth remembering." With his playful jesting the tension rises as he mentions the man who made Wentworth flee the concert, "What is Mr. Elliot to me?"

Elizabeth's surprising invitation to Wentworth furthers the plot, showing that Elizabeth has accepted Wentworth as a desirable acquaintance and making Anne wonder whether he will attend.

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