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Persuasion | Chapter 8 (Volume 1, Chapter 8) | Summary

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Summary

After Charles Musgrove Jr. heals, Anne and Captain Wentworth share the same social circle. When he mentions "the year six," the year of their engagement, Anne knows he, like her, remembers their history. Yet the two avoid contact beyond pleasantries.

From being near him she judges he is the same: "the same voice, and ... the same mind." As the Musgrove sisters show interest in him and his career, Anne understands she knows him best. When Mrs. Musgrove is distracted by grief for her son, Captain Wentworth comforts her despite having disliked Richard Musgrove.

In a heated discussion about women and ships, Admiral and Mrs. Croft disagree with her brother, who "would never willingly admit any ladies on board." They insist his mind will change when he marries. Irritated by their bullying he leaves the conversation.

While playing music for the dancers, Anne's eyes sometimes fill with tears, witnessing her former fiancé's good spirits and popularity with other women. Even though she catches him looking at her and asking about her, when he speaks to her she leaves, hating his "cold politeness" and "unceremonious grace."

Analysis

With an admiral, an admiral's wife, and a captain present, the symbol of ships appears regularly in the party's conversation. As Anne witnesses the Musgrove sisters swoon as Wentworth talks romantically about the sea, she remembers "the early days when she too had been ignorant." Her knowledge of Wentworth's career, Admiral Croft's career, and her continued interest in the navy reveal her unchanging feelings for Captain Wentworth and regret over her decision to end the engagement.

As Anne spends time with Admiral and Mrs. Croft, their characters develop, and she idealizes their relationship. They appear "particularly attached and happy" to Anne, and the couple is seen as a foil, or direct contrast, for Anne and Wentworth. The Crofts are a reminder that had she not broken their engagement she and Wentworth could have been as happy as the older couple.

When the conversation returns to ships, Mrs. Croft, who has accompanied her husband on long voyages, challenges her brother's refusal to admit women on his ships. He exits in a huff, and she continues to others, "While we were together, you know, there was nothing to be feared." Wentworth, of course, does not know.

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