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Persuasion | Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) | Summary

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Summary

At Uppercross Cottage over the next two months, Anne is an emotional touchstone for the Musgroves. Because others value her opinion and believe she has influence over her sister, they complain to her about Mary's ways of raising her children, Mary's overbearing personality, and the integrity of Mrs. Musgrove's nursery maid. Anne does her best to soothe the indignant personalities. Overall she thinks the change of environment is positive for both Mary and her. Friendly and popular, the Musgroves entertain frequently, and the Great House is open to less well-off cousins who live nearby and for whom Anne plays music for dancing.

Three weeks into Anne's stay at Uppercross, the Crofts arrive at Kellynch Hall. The Musgroves, fulfilling social duties, visit them. When the Crofts return the visit, Mary and Anne entertain them. In passing, both Mr. and Mrs. Croft mention Mrs. Croft's now married brother. Anne is momentarily devastated until she learns it is Mrs. Croft's other brother, not Frederick, who has married. The Musgroves report that "Captain" Wentworth will come on a visit to the Crofts soon, and Anne's emotions are raw once again.

Mrs. Musgrove remembers that her deceased son, Richard, served on a ship under a Captain Wentworth, and she is both excited and sad to realize that it is likely the same man. The family spends an evening debating the possibility, as well as remembering the ne'er-do-well Richard Musgrove in the most positive light possible. Hearing others speak of her former fiancé affects Anne deeply.

Analysis

This chapter gives deeper insight into Anne's good character. Its beginning is devoted to family members asking Anne to persuade others to change. Her close-mouthed refusal to persuade others demonstrates her maturity and is evidence of her regret at having been persuaded herself. The list of complaints is exhausting yet the narrator perceives Anne's environment and experience as improved over her life at Kellynch Hall, showing how deeply she has suffered while living with Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot.

The symbol of music first appears in this chapter. At parties for the Musgroves' relations, Anne refrains from socializing and plays the piano. The narrator explains the meaning of music: "excepting one short period of her life, [Anne] had never, since the age of fourteen, never since the loss of her dear mother, known the happiness of being listened to, or encouraged by any just appreciation or real taste." Later Captain Wentworth's love of music is revealed, and their shared love of music is alluded to here—he listened to her for a "short" time. Music also serves as an excuse for Anne to avoid engaging with others. Because of her devotion to Captain Wentworth she would rather play music, a connection to him, than socialize and try to meet someone else.

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