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Tea and Sympathy, Part 2 (Discussion at the Spring “Great House” Tea)

End Persuasion

Tea and Sympathy, Part 2

Michele Larrow

At our Spring “Great House” Tea on Sunday May 6 at the McConnell Mansion in Moscow, ID the most exciting part of the tea for me was the passionate and engaged discussion that members had about sympathy in Persuasion.  There were two sections of Persuasion discussed per table, for the total of eight sections.  Then we got together as the big group and each table shared their discussion of the scene they had.  Since I can’t remember who was in each individual group, I will summarize what each table group shared, mentioning who was at the table by first name.  The page numbers listed refer to: Austen, Jane.  Persuasion. Ed. R.W. Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1933.  Please see the prior blog for the other references.

I started the discussion by doing a quick summary of the material that was summarized in our first blog on this topic Tea and Sympathy, Part 1 https://jasnaewanid.org/2018/04/22/tea-and-sympathy-part-1/.   I gave my opinion that Captain Wentworth did not understand Anne’s reasons and feelings when she broke the engagement and did not appreciate her character and judgment.  Over the course of the novel, Captain Wentworth has to progress from anger and resentment about the past to acceptance and full sympathy with Anne before they can re-unite and have a successful marriage. I also offered a discussion of the philosopher Adam Smith’s A Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) as a resource to help us explore what “sympathy” meant to Jane Austen.  “Sympathy is defined by Smith as our ability imaginatively to feel others’ emotions (9-10) as they would experience the situation, changing ‘persons and characters’ with others (317)” (Larrow 3; also Fricke 10).  Austen’s novels show the challenges in fully understanding another person’s emotions and point of view and in Persuasion, Austen has to show Captain Wentworth as both a warm person capable of caring, but initially unsympathetic to Anne.

Table 1, with Sheryl N., Linnea, Vivian, Kay, Valerie, and Jennifer discussed the scenes when Anne and Captain Wentworth first meet at Uppercross and his comments afterwards that Mary shares with Anne (58-62) and when Captain Wentworth takes Anne’s nephew off her back (78-81).  They discussed how his early interactions with Anne were fairly cold. Anne interprets his behaviors as “He wished to avoid seeing her” and she feels “mortification” that he has seen her as “altered beyond recognition”.  The narrator also tells us information that Anne does not have access to:

Frederick Wentworth had used such words, or something like them, but without an idea that they would be carried round to her.  He had thought her wretchedly altered, and in the first moment of appeal, had spoken as he felt.  He had not forgiven Anne Elliot.  She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure.  She had given him up to oblige others.  It had been the effect of over-persuasion.  It had been weakness and timidity.

When Captain Wentworth removes Walter from her back, he is showing some concern for her feelings, but then he negates that by avoiding her thanks or talking to her:

the little particulars of the circumstance, with the conviction soon forced on her by the noise he was studiously making with the child, that he meant to avoid hearing her thanks, and rather sought to testify that her conversation was the last of his wants, produced such a confusion of varying, but very painful agitation, as she could not recover from, till enabled by the entrance of Mary and the Miss Musgroves to make over her little patient to their cares, and leave the room.

So, the early interactions between Anne and Captain Wentworth allow us to see Anne’s pain at how he treats her, but he appears oblivious to her feelings.

Table 2, with Stephanie, Amy, Katherine, Laura, Jane, and Mary Ellen discussed the scenes when Anne overhears Captain Wentworth talking to Louisa while walking and then when he helps her into the carriage (87-91) and Captain Wentworth’s talk about Anne after Louisa falls and then the carriage ride to Uppercross (114-117).  After Captain Wentworth puts Anne in the carriage, Anne offers (in free indirect discourse) a summary of what he thinks of her at this point:

She was in the carriage, and felt that he had placed her there, that his will and his hands had done it, that she owed it to his perception of her fatigue, and his resolution to give her rest.  She was very much affected by the view of his disposition towards her, which all these things made apparent.  This little circumstance seemed the completion of all that had gone before. She understood him.  He could not forgive her, but he could not be unfeeling.  Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjust resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief.  It was a remainder of former sentiment; it was an impulse of pure, though unacknowledged friendship; it was a proof of his own warm and amiable heart, which she could not contemplate without emotions so compounded of pleasure and pain, that she knew not which prevailed.

After Louisa falls, Anne overhears him talking about her in a way that seems to appreciate her as “proper” and “capable”, but she soon realizes that he appreciates her mainly so she can nurse Louisa.  When he asks her opinion about how to break the news of the fall to the Musgroves, she feels happy that he has asked for her concurrence:  “But the remembrance of the appeal remained a pleasure to her, as a proof of friendship, and of deference for her judgement, a great pleasure; and when it became a sort of parting proof, its value did not lessen.”  Thus, when Anne leaves Uppercross, Captain Wentworth appears to have some value for her and some sympathy about her feelings, but in the context of her usefulness to him or Louisa.

Table 3, with Anne, Marie, Vickey, Ariel, Leslee, Melody, and Rose discussed the scenes when Anne sees Captain Wentworth the first time in Bath in Molland’s (175-178) and at the concert, the discussion between Anne and Captain Wentworth (181-186).  Anne has trouble determining his feelings for her when they first meet in Bath:  “The character of his manner was embarrassment.  She could not have called it either cold or friendly, or anything so certainly as embarrassed.” Anne is not sure if he is disappointed that Louisa is to marry someone else and tries to determine it.  In the scene at the concert, Captain Wentworth has more appreciation of Anne’s feelings, for example thinking that she might have had a shock about the fall:  “I have hardly seen you since our day at Lyme.  I am afraid you must have suffered from the shock, and the more from its not overpowering you at the time.”  He also has some sense of what she feels about not being supported in the past by her family when he discusses how the Musgroves are such supportive parents: “A sudden recollection seemed to occur, and to give him some taste of that emotion which was reddening Anne’s cheeks and fixing her eyes on the ground.”  Finally at the end of the scene, Anne thinks she understands him and that he must love her:

His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only one light.  His opinion of Louisa Musgrove’s inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment; sentences begun which he could not finish, his half averted eyes and more than half expressive glance, all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least; that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard, but by the tenderness of the past.  Yes, some share of the tenderness of the past.  She could not contemplate the change as implying less.  He must love her.

Although Anne senses his love for her, she also sees that Captain Wentworth is jealous of Mr. Elliot and unsure of what her feelings are.  Social conventions of the time prevent her from directly saying what she feels and so she must find a way to acknowledge her love to him.

Table 4, with Sheryl D., Lorena, Donna, Angel, Sonya, and Moriah discussed the scenes at the White Hart, when Captain Wentworth overhears Anne talking to Captain Harville and writes his letter (236-238) and the discussion between Captain Wentworth and Anne after they become engaged again and the night of the party at Anne’s house ( 240-247).  When he writes his letter to Anne, Captain Wentworth recognizes her full worth.  He is “half agony, half hope” because he finally sees her moral and emotional superiority to all other women and fears he has lost her.  We read the letter that he wrote, savoring the emotions expressed:

“I can listen no longer in silence.  I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.  You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half hope.  Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.  I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.  Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death.  I have loved none but you.  Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.  You alone have brought me to Bath.  For you alone, I think and plan.  Have you not seen this?  Can you fail to have understood my wishes?  I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine.  I can hardly write.  I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me.  You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature!  You do us justice, indeed.  You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.  Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

When they are engaged again, the narrator reflects on Captain Wentworth and Anne’s mutual love and that they are both “fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment”:

There they exchanged again those feelings and those promises which had once before seemed to secure everything, but which had been followed by so many, many years of division and estrangement.  There they returned again into the past, more exquisitely happy, perhaps, in their re-union, than when it had been first projected; more tender, more tried, more fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment; more equal to act, more justified in acting.

Captain Wentworth sees Anne’s full worth and his errors.  “Her character was now fixed on his mind as perfection itself, maintaining the loveliest medium of fortitude and gentleness; but he was obliged to acknowledge that only at Uppercross had he learnt to do her justice, and only at Lyme had he begun to understand himself.”  He even learns to forgive Lady Russell, when he considers that he was to blame for not reuniting when he had prize money a few years after the broken engagement:

“Good God!” he cried, “you would!  It is not that I did not think of it, or desire it, as what could alone crown all my other success; but I was proud, too proud to ask again.  I did not understand you.  I shut my eyes, and would not understand you, or do you justice.  This is a recollection which ought to make me forgive every one sooner than myself.  Six years of separation and suffering might have been spared. It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me.  I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed.  I have valued myself on honourable toils and just rewards. Like other great men under reverses,” he added, with a smile. “I must endeavour to subdue my mind to my fortune.  I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve.”

At the end, we agreed that Anne and Captain Wentworth were indeed now a better match for each other than they were before because Captain Wentworth could fully sympathize with Anne’s feelings.  The discussion was a great ending to a wonderful tea.  Thanks to everyone who helped and participated.  We look forward to more fun events.

 

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Tea and Sympathy, Part 1

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Tea and Sympathy, Part 1

Michele Larrow

At our tea on May 6, we will discuss sympathy in Persuasion.  The following is a short discussion of sympathy in Jane Austen’s time to get you thinking about the topic.  If you have not read Persuasion, we will provide excerpts of the book for the sections we will discuss.  We hope you will join us.  Please see our Events page for more information about the tea https://jasnaewanid.org/events/ .

The most moral characters in Jane Austen’s novels balance their emotions and reason. Sympathy, which engages both “head and heart”, is central to moral relationships.  In Persuasion, when Anne Elliot leaves Kellynch to spend time with her sister Mary and the Musgrove family, she muses (in free indirect discourse) that she “must now submit to feel that another lesson in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our circle, was become necessary for her; . . . she had expected rather more curiosity and sympathy than she found” from the Musgroves (42).  Anne next reflects on her relationship with Lady Russell, thinking “with heightened gratitude of the extraordinary blessing of having one such truly sympathising friend as Lady Russell” (42).  In Persuasion, Anne is the character who is adept at reading others’ emotions and sympathizing with their experiences, yet others rarely show her sympathy in return.  When she broke her engagement to Captain Wentworth, years before the start of the novel, he did not understand her reasons and feelings, felt “ill-used”, and left the country (28). Over the course of the novel, Captain Wentworth has to progress from anger and resentment about the past to acceptance and full sympathy with Anne before they can re-unite and have a successful marriage.

Sympathy in Austen’s time was a concept that had broader meaning than today’s usage– in some ways it might be thought of as what we would call empathy–and the philosopher Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS), which he significantly revised during Austen’s lifetime in 1790, is an excellent resource to help us explore what “sympathy” meant to Jane Austen*.  “Sympathy is defined by Smith as our ability imaginatively to feel others’ emotions (9-10) as they would experience the situation, changing ‘persons and characters’ with others (317)” (Larrow 3; also Fricke 10).  Christel Fricke uses TMS to explore how Elizabeth and Darcy learn to treat each other as equals and eventually love each other through engaging in “a sympathetic process, an interactive process of moral learning” (1). When we have sympathy for others, we not only feel their emotions, we judge their emotions to be proper (Smith 10-23; also Fricke 10).  In social interaction, we want others to approve of our emotions, so we tend to moderate our display of feeling to get the approval of others.  Those who are judging others’ emotions are supposed to try to “increase their sympathetic emotions that they feel for others to be virtuous” (Larrow 5).  Austen’s novels show the challenges in fully understanding another person’s emotions and point of view and judging their behavior properly.

Like all Austen novels, characters in Persuasion vary in their capacity to be sympathetic to others. Elizabeth and Sir Walter are cold and uncaring about anyone else.  The Musgroves are well meaning and warm, but can’t imagine what it is like for Anne to leave her house.  In contrast, Admiral and Mrs. Croft are able to imagine Anne’s experience returning to Kellynch for a visit and offer sympathy.  Captain Wentworth is an interesting case and Austen has to portray him as both a warm person capable of caring, but initially unsympathetic to Anne.  He is shown as sympathetic to Mrs. Musgrove about her grief over her son, even though he experienced the son as trouble when he was on his ship.  His actions in caring for Captain Benwick after telling him his fiancé has died show sympathy and profound compassion. Yet at the beginning of the novel, his actions to Anne are unfeeling and cold.  He is probably unaware of the pain that he causes her by his treatment, but she feels the pain nonetheless. Through the course of the novel, Anne tries to infer what he is feeling for her, especially if he feels sympathy for her and forgiveness for the past.  By the end of the book, when he writes his letter to Anne, Captain Wentworth recognizes her full worth and finally can sympathize with her feelings—that is why he is “half agony, half hope” (237), because he finally sees her moral and emotional superiority to all other women and fears he has lost her.  Once Captain Wentworth is a “truly sympathising friend” (42) to Anne, they are able to marry.

* Both Larrow and Fricke review specific examples from the novels that resonate with the writings of Adam Smith in TMS. Larrow focuses on Mr. Knightley’s development of sympathy for Emma and Fricke explores how many characters in Pride and Prejudice seem to derive from Smith’s discussions of vanity and pride, as well as exploring how Darcy and Elizabeth both change morally through interacting with the other.  Please see below for links to the two articles.  If you are interested in reading Adam Smith, you can find TMS online for free.

At our tea on May 6, we will explore how Jane Austen shows the changes in Captain Wentworth’s feelings of sympathy for Anne–how he comes to understand her better and thus judge her feelings appropriately.  We will focus on several scenes that show how Anne infers Captain Wentworth’s feelings toward and sympathy for her, from his behavior (the pages refer to the Chapman edition).  We will have eight small groups discuss a scene, using a couple of questions to stir debate, and then present to the larger group.  You do not need to have read the book; we will provide a copy of the selected pages for each group.  After the tea, I will write up a summary of the discussion we had for those who are not able to attend the tea and post it on the website.  

Here are the scenes we will discuss:

  1. When Anne and Captain Wentworth first meet at Uppercross and his comments afterwards that Mary shares with Anne (59-61).
  2. When Captain Wentworth takes Anne’s nephew off her back (80-81).
  3. When Anne overhears Captain Wentworth talking to Louisa and then when he helps her into the carriage (87-91).
  4. Captain Wentworth’s talk about Anne after Louisa falls and then the carriage ride to Uppercross (114-117).
  5. When Anne sees Captain Wentworth the first time in Bath in Molland’s (175-178).
  6. At the concert, the discussion between Anne and Captain Wentworth (181-186).
  7. At the White Hart, when Captain Wentworth overhears Anne talking to Captain Harville and writes his letter (236-238).
  8. The discussion between Captain Wentworth and Anne after they become engaged again and the night of the party at Anne’s house ( 240-247).

Works Cited

Austen, Jane.  Persuasion. Ed. R.W. Chapman. 3rd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1933.

Fricke, Christel. “The Challenges of Pride and Prejudice: Adam Smith and Jane Austen on Moral Education.”  Revue International de Philosophe 269 (2014): 343-372. Retrieved from http://www.christelfricke.no/publications, pp. 1-21.

Professor Fricke has kindly allowed me to include the PDF of her article see below:

challenges-pride-prejudice

Larrow, Michele.  “’Could He Even Have Seen into Her Heart’:  Mr. Knightley’s Development of Sympathy”, Persuasions Online, 37 (2016): 1-14.  Available at: http://www.jasna.org/publications/persuasions-online/vol37no1/larrow/

Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Ed. D. D. Raphael and A. L. MacFie. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976.  A free e-book of TMS is available at:  http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMS.html

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Last Day to Enter Our Giveaway

Our Spring Jane Austen Giveaway ends tonight at 8pm! We are offering some extra ways to enter so keep an eye on our social media (you can find those on our Contact Page) and check out our upcoming event, the Jane Austen Spring “Great House” Tea (buy a ticket right HERE, if you don’t want to wait!) The winner of this giveaway does receive a ticket (if able to attend).

ENTER TO WIN ➡️HERE!!!⬅️

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The winner will be contacted by email within 24 hours and have 24 hours to accept before we share who it is! Good luck!!

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Enter to Win Our Spring Jane Austen Giveaway!

We at JASNA EWANID are so very pleased to note we have reached 100+ followers on Facebook, Twitter, AND Instagram!! Thank you for joining us!! To celebrate these milestones, we have decided to host a Jane Austen-inspired spring giveaway! The giveaway will run from 11am on Saturday, 7 April 2018, to 8pm on Monday, 16 April 2018.
ENTER HERE: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0036c5681/?

The prizes are as follows:

  • 1 Jane Austen coloring book
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  • 1 bar of Northanger Soapworks’ “Captain Wentworth’s Constancy” soap
  • 1 box of Twinings tea
  • 1 ticket ($20 value) to our May 6 Spring “Great House” Tea

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Upon completion of the giveaway period, the winner will be emailed within 24 hours and must accept within 24 hours so we may announce the results! If the winner is unable to attend our May 6 tea, we reserve the right to select a second winner for the ticket only. If the winner would prefer a different color of wristwarmers or a pair for a man, or an herbal box of Twinings tea, please contact Jane at jasna.ewanidsm@gmail.com to discuss. While we wish we could send the prize anywhere in the world, this one is for residents of the United States who are 18 or older. Please comment with questions, write us at the above email address, or ask us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

This is our first giveaway so we cannot promise it will be “calm waters all” the time, but we shall do our best! We are very excited!

HOW TO ENTER:
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Come Vote In “Jane Austen Madness”

Welcome to “Jane Austen Madness,” our take on the “March Madness” basketball craze which takes over the internet every March here in the USA.

Last week we randomly paired up 64 of Jane Austen’s characters and began voting. You can use this link to fill out a bracket, picking your favorite character in each pairing until you reach a favorite champion, ever 5 minutes until 2 April 2018. Click on a pairing if you can’t remember who someone is. On 2 April, we will announce who was voted our favorite character of this year’s “Jane Austen Madness!”

Please feel free to share the link and invite your fellow Janeites from near and far to participate. The more the merrier!

If you have questions about specific characters or how to fill out the bracket, please comment below or send us a message! We will post reminders to vote every so often.

Happy Jane Austen Madness!!

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The Journey Begins

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Welcome to the website for the Jane Austen Society of North America, Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho region.  This is the year that we celebrate Persuasion.  We are planning several exciting events for the year.

“She could only resolve to avoid such self-delusion in future, and think with heightened gratitude of the extraordinary blessing of having one such truly sympathising friend as Lady Russell.” Anne Elliot in Persuasion by Jane Austen