persuasion chapter 17

“. . . i fear its lessons are not in the elevated style you descibe”

the last time anne lived in bath was as a depressed and sullen teenager, alone at school, immediately after the death of her mother.  these (dead) memories which still haunt partially account for anne’s cold reception of her second stay at bath.  there was, however, one bright-spot from that (dead) past: a miss hamilton, now mrs smith, “had been useful and good to [anne] in a way which had considerably lessened her misery, and could never be remembered with indifference”.

situations appear to be reversed: now, anne is more-or-less content; mrs smith is widowed, with numerous health problems, struggling to obtain basic necessities.  but even give these circumstances, anne believes mrs smith “had moments only of languor and depression, to hours of occupation and enjoyment” due not only to fortitude and resignation, but further to an “elasticity of mind, that disposition to be comforted, that power to turning readily from [beyond?] evil to good” .

sir walter nearly loses it when he finds that anne has been visiting mrs smith, grounding his opposition to the connection by opposing her physical location within the city (which, of course, also locates her class position):

“Westgate-buildings!” said he; “and who is Miss Anne Elliot to be visiting Westgate buildings? — A Mrs Smith?  A Widow Mrs Smith, — and who is her husband?  One of the five thousand Mr Smiths whose names are to be met with every where.”

to sir walter’s outburst, anne offers no reply.

she left it to himself to recollect, that Mrs Smith was not the only widow in Bath between thirty and forty, with little to live on, and no sirname of dignity.

i wonder if during sir walter’s recollection he realized that the ration between those resident of bath he considers worth visiting and those like mrs smith seems inversely proportional to the relation between mrs smith’s moments of depression and her hours of enjoyment.

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