Persuasions #15, 1993                                                                                                                                                Pages 207-215



In Defense of Lady Russell;

or, The Godmother Knew Best



Professor of English, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, CO


Readers tend to regard Lady Russell, Anne Elliot’s godmother in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, as a kind of fairy godmother manqué.  For while she certainly loves her goddaughter and desires only the best for her, some eight years before the novel begins she had persuaded Anne, then nineteen, to break her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, “a stranger without alliance or fortune.”1  Given the amiable Anne’s sad deterioration as a result of following her godmother’s advice, it is no wonder Lady Russell fares poorly with critics.  Influenced by the passage from chapter two about Lady Russell’s “prejudices on the side of ancestry … [and] value for rank and consequence, which blinded her …”(11), some otherwise thoughtful critics attribute that advice either to those same “social prejudices” or to sheer obtuseness.2

Poor Lady Russell!  Was a godmother ever so befuddled and bumbling?  And with her blinding “value for rank and consequence” (11) readers conclude she was a snob to boot.  But I should like to come to this well-meaning dowager’s defense, an act to which I am prompted by Austen’s many judgmental comments about Lady Russell, most of them highly complimentary, but misapplied in critical evaluations of her relationships with various Elliots at key moments in their lives.  Examining Austen’s judgments of Lady Russell in their proper contexts will help us to see the dowager’s behavior in a different, indeed exculpatory, light.  After all, who knows the lady better than her creator?

A “sensible, deserving woman,” Lady Russell had been the late Lady Elliot’s “one very intimate friend,” whose “strong attachment to herself” had brought her “to settle close by her, in the village of Kellynch” (5).  The ladies’ intimacy was strengthened by their shared concern for Lady Elliot’s three daughters, all teenagers or younger when she died (4).  Knowing her death would leave them to the “guidance of a conceited, silly father,” Lady Elliot “mainly relied” on Lady Russell’s “kindness and advice … for the best help and maintenance of the good principles and instruction which she had been anxiously giving her daughters’ (5).

Lady Elliot’s anxiety for her daughters was well grounded in personal experiences.  While she, herself, “had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable” (4), she had made one big error in life: her marriage.  In 1784, prompted by “youthful infatuation” and “attach[ed]” by a young man’s “good looks and his rank,” she, Elizabeth Stevenson, had married “the remarkably handsome,” twenty-four-year-old Sir Walter Elliot (1, 4).  With ironic understatement, Austen observes that her marriage did not make her the “very happiest being in the world.” Yet Lady Elliot requested no “indulgence.”  She spent the next seventeen years dealing sensibly with her husband’s flaws and finding solace and activity in her children, friends, and duties (4).

I have rehearsed at length the material about Lady Elliot’s intimacy with Lady Russell, as well as that about the former’s infatuated marriage choice and its consequences, to lead us to a better understanding of Lady Russell’s concerns about Anne, her “most dear and highly valued god-daughter, favourite, and friend” (6).  Anne’s being the dowager’s favorite is only to be expected.  The late Lady Elliot was once her most trusted friend, and Anne is very much her mother’s daughter.  As Lady Russell tells her, “You are your mother’s self in countenance and disposition …” (160).  Although her godmother makes this comment within the context of a possible marriage to Mr. William Elliot, Anne thus becoming the next Lady Elliot – and “occupying [her] dear mother’s place” (159) – I would suggest that Lady Russell notices a greater and more fearsome similarity between mother and daughter than she articulates outright.  She communicates this cognizance indirectly by the way she responds to Anne’s marital prospects with Frederick Wentworth.

Though not a woman of “quick abilities” (11), Lady Russell saw during the Anne-Wentworth romance what, to her, were obvious indications that her goddaughter was acting like the young woman who twenty-two years earlier had foolishly married Sir Walter Elliot.  That Lady Russell would not articulate this sensitive observation outright is in no way surprising.  Just as her “delicate sense of honor” and “strict … notions of decorum” (11) compel her to act most tactfully with Sir Walter when he is in fiscal distress, so too, this delicacy would dictate her behavior towards her goddaughter when she considers her to be in romantic distress.  It simply would be neither decorous nor consistent with her typically “consistent” (11) character for Lady Russell to tell Anne bluntly, “Anne, you’re making the same mistake your mother made two-and-twenty years ago.”

For us to understand Lady Russell’s behavior in 1806, we need to reconstruct the scene and examine the background knowledge that Lady Russell would have had at the time of the Anne-Wentworth romance.  According to the baronetage entry with which Persuasion opens, Elizabeth Stevenson had married Sir Walter in July 1784, when the latter, “born March 1, 1760,” would have been twenty-four, just a year older than Wentworth was when he first fell in love with Anne (1, 125).  Using common sense, as well as the typical bride and groom age differences one finds in a baronetage or marriage list for the times, we can assume that the “youthful” Elizabeth Stevenson was between seventeen and twenty-one when she married.  Perhaps she was even nineteen, the same age that Anne was when she first became enamored of Captain Wentworth.

The young Miss Stevenson’s attraction to the “remarkably handsome” young baronet (4) bears certain similarities to Anne’s youthful attraction to Wentworth.  When Frederick first arrived in Somersetshire, he was also “a remarkably fine young man” (26).  His exceptional attractiveness back in 1806 is suggested by the admiring remarks about his appearances exchanged by Lady Dalrymple and that fastidious expert on male beauty, Sir Walter, at the concert in Bath nine years later: “ ‘A well-looking man,’ said Sir Walter, ‘a very well-looking man.’  ‘A very fine young man indeed!’ said Lady Dalrymple” (188).  Likewise, “when [Sir Walter] saw more of … Wentworth, saw him repeatedly by daylight and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims …” (248).  High praise, indeed, for a man who has spent nearly the last eight years at sea!3

At nineteen, Anne, too, had “claims of … beauty”: she was “an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling” (26, my italics).  While Anne and Frederick’s initial acquaintance began “gradually” – which is understandable, given the different circles in which the daughter of a baronet and the naval-commander brother of a curate travelled – once acquainted, they fell “rapidly and deeply in love” (4, my italics).  A romance of rapid progress was inevitable for this young couple, “for he had nothing to do, and she had hardly any body to love” (26).  Moreover, he was “sanguine,” witty, warm, fearless, “headstrong,” free and even reckless in his spending, yet "bewitching[ly]” confident that he would continue to be “lucky” in securing more prize money at sea (27).  How could the lonely, “feeling” Anne resist the handsome, charismatic officer?  How could the warm and otherwise unoccupied Frederick resist the beautiful and gentle Anne?  Falling rapidly in love, they had a true romance of passion.  Perhaps to Lady Russell it even looked like Elizabeth Stevenson’s “youthful infatuation” with Walter Elliot.

Given these circumstances, the reader’s questions about Lady Russell should not be, “Why would she oppose Anne and Frederick’s marriage?”  Rather, we need to ask, “Why wouldn’t she oppose this match?”  She saw Anne – her “mother’s self” (160) – potentially repeating her mother’s error.  While the vain Sir Walter thought the Anne-Frederick match “a very degrading alliance,” Lady Russell, “with more tempered and pardonable pride, received it as a most unfortunate one” (26, my italics).  The author’s judgmental phrase, which I have italicized, is important to our interpreting correctly Lady Russell’s subsequent behavior in this episode.  When the couple approached Sir Walter about their engagement, his pride of rank and vanity were offended; to Austen and her readers, Sir Walter’s pride is offensive.  But the author exonerates Lady Russell’s pride, which she explicitly states was “more tempered and pardonable” (26).  The dowager’s “more … pardonable pride” is not in her rank, but in her favorite god-daughter, "with all her claims of birth, beauty, and mind …” (26).  Nineteen-year-old Anne Elliot, so full of potential, “so young” and “known to so few” (27), is going


to throw herself away at nineteen; involve herself at nineteen in an engagement with a young man, who had nothing but himself to recommend him, and no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain profession, and no connexions to secure even his farther rise in that profession; [this] would be, indeed, a throwing away …. (27, 26)4


“A throwing away” is what Anne’s mother had done in 1784.  Lady Russell knew what had attracted her dearest, most intimate friend to Sir Walter in her youth.  She knew, as well, that Lady Elliot had never been as “highly valued” at Kellynch Hall as her superior qualities had merited (160).  And she knew that Anne, so like her late mother in appearance and character, was as undervalued at Kellynch as her mother had been (12).  All this, added to Lady Russell’s horror of “imprudence,” led her to deprecate and seek to end “the connexion” between Anne and Frederick, which she feared would sink her goddaughter “into a state of most wearing, anxious, youth-killing dependance!” (27).  “Prevent[ing]” this marriage, Lady Russell believed, was the duty “of one who had almost a mother’s love, and mother’s rights …” (27).  Moreover, she had the memory of Anne’s mother’s experience to validate her own actions.  With extreme “tenderness of manner” (27), she proceeds to make Anne “believe the engagement a wrong thing – indiscreet, improper, hardly capable of success, and not deserving it” (27).  Anne even ends up thinking the engagement wrong for Frederick’s own good (27-28).5

Notice that Austen never mentions Lady Russell’s blinding “value for rank and consequence” in writing about her handling of the Anne-Wentworth affair.  That loaded description6 of Lady Russell’s “prejudices on the side of ancestry” appears in chapter two (11), where the omniscient narrator comments upon Lady Russell’s attitude towards Sir Walter’s economic “faults,” which precipitated the Kellynch financial exigencies that came to a head in the summer of 1814.  It is worthwhile to review the passage in full:


She had a cultivated mind, and was, generally speaking, rational and consistent – but she had prejudices on the side of ancestry; she had a value for rank and consequence, which blinded her a little to the faults of those who possessed them.  Herself, the widow of only a knight, she gave the dignity of a baronet all its due; and Sir Walter, independent of his claims as an old acquaintance, an attentive neighbor, an obliging landlord, the husband of her very dear friend, the father of Anne and her sisters, was, as being Sir Walter, in her apprehension entitled to a great deal of compassion and consideration under his present difficulties.  (11)


Lady Russell’s “delicate sense of honor,” benevolence, decorum, charity, integrity, capacity for “strong attachments” – particularly to the memory of her “very dear friend” and that friend’s family – and goodness (has Austen ever bestowed on one character such a cascade of complimentary epithets in a single paragraph?) convince her that the Elliots “must retrench,” but “with the least possible pain” to the baronet and his family (11, 12).   That the Elliots, her “confidential friends” (10) and neighbors, were living beyond their means after Lady Elliot’s decease surely would have been noticed by her.  For it was her “very intimate friend”(5), Lady Elliot, who had always provided fiscal “method, moderation, and economy” at Kellynch (9).  Her death had ended “all such right-mindedness, and from that period [Sir Walter] had been constantly exceeding” his income (9).  Yet keeping in character, Lady Russell would never have acted indecorously and corrected Sir Walter or even suggested ways of economizing until he appealed to her, which he finally does when his finances ebb precariously to the edge of ruin.

Knowing Sir Walter’s financial ineptitude and his inability to provide for Anne’s future (248), Lady Russell fears that if her goddaughter, at age nineteen, makes a fiscally imprudent marriage, such as to Frederick Wentworth, Anne will be “sunk by him into a … killing dependance!” (27).  Her fears are not exaggerated because, as we are told, “Captain Wentworth had no fortune.  He had been lucky in his profession, but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing” (27).  Lady Russell’s partially evaluating Anne’s marital prospects in economic terms is based on what LeRoy W. Smith calls “patriarchal principles”:7


On three occasions she counsels Anne by patriarchal standards, such as the wealth in property of the prospective husband.  Although always acting with integrity and solicitude, Lady Russell represents a threat to Anne’s possibilities of happiness, the menace of one who “loves” her but whose advice would hold her in social bondage.  (161)


But if Lady Russell’s “advice would hold [Anne] in social bondage,” she, along with Austen, knows that an imprudent marriage would hold Anne in economic bondage.  Although they never marry for money, none of Austen’s heroines makes a financially imprudent marriage.  Hence, Lady Russell “lamented” Anne’s refusing at age twenty-two the proposal from Charles Musgrove, a young man “of good character and appearance” and the heir to property in size and importance “second in that country” only to Kellynch (28).  Remember, except for Charlotte Heywood in Sanditon, all of Austen’s heroines are married by this age.  As Anne enters her mid-twenties, Lady Russell “began … to have the anxiety which borders on hopelessness for Anne’s being tempted by some man of talents and independence, to” marry (29).

Insofar as Lady Russell’s contemplating a possible marriage between Anne and William Elliot is concerned, she is utterly unaware of his questionable past and temporarily enamored of the idea that the now nearly twenty-eight-year-old Anne (time is running out on her) could eventually succeed her mother as a “more highly valued” (160) Lady Elliot.  Rather tentatively and, of course, decorously, she suggests to her goddaughter “that if Mr. Elliot should some time hence pay his addresses to you, and if you should be disposed to accept him,” she “think[s] there would be every possibility of” happiness (159).  On Lady Russell’s behalf, we should recall that her sentimental visions of Anne as Lady Elliot had come the morning after doting godmother and suave heir presumptive had seen eye-to-eye as they enumerated Anne’s merits during their conversation at Lady Dalrymple’s (159).  Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that Mr. Elliot is the first person, other than Lady Elliot, in whom Lady Russell ever found another admirer of her favorite young woman.8  Lady Russell views Anne’s possible marriage to Mr. Elliot as offering her goddaughter personal happiness with a man who, by his conversation and behavior, evidences great admiration and affection for her; along with this comes economic security, the “patriarchal” principle designated by Smith.  Snobbishness, an undue “value for rank and consequence,” has nothing to do with this; on the contrary, Lady Russell saw in Lady Elliot’s unhappy marriage what the consequences of an “attachment" based merely on “good looks and … rank” (4, my italics) could be.

That Lady Russell is no snob is underscored further in the same chapter (vol. 2, ch. 5), when Sir Walter arrogantly criticizes Anne for slumming by visiting “A widow Mrs. Smith, lodging in West-gate buildings!” (158).  Asked by her father what Lady Russell “thinks of this acquaintance,” Anne replies, “She sees nothing to blame in it … on the contrary, she approves it; and has generally taken me [i.e., in her carriage], when I have called on Mrs. Smith” (157).  In fact, Lady Russell so much approves her goddaughter’s visits to Mrs. Smith, though she lives in a solitary room in the unfashionable West-gate buildings, that she numbers them among Anne’s virtues when she praises Anne to Mr. Elliot at Lady Dalrymple’s (158-59).9

Given the sincere and loving concern that Lady Russell has demonstrated towards Anne, it is not surprising in the final chapter that the dowager should “at a very early period … [mean] to love Captain Wentworth as she ought …” (251).  Insofar as Mr. Elliot and the Captain are concerned, Lady Russell


must learn to feel that she had been mistaken with regard to both; that she had been unfairly influenced by appearance in each; that because Captain Wentworth’s manners had not suited her own ideas, she had been too quick in suspecting them to indicate a character of dangerous impetuosity; and that because Mr. Elliot’s manners had precisely pleased her in their propriety and correctness, their general politeness and suavity, she had been too quick in receiving them as the certain result of the most correct opinions and well regulated mind.  (249, my italics)


As the preceding quotation explicitly states, Lady Russell’s opinions of Anne’s two suitors were based on their respective “appearance” and “manners,” not their “rank and consequence” (11), as many readers erroneously assume.  As a woman whose own manners “were held a standard of good-breeding” (11), Lady Russell would naturally place great significance on the manners of others.  She would never suspect that an individual – especially the heir presumptive to Kellynch – would use a facade of gentlemanly manners as a ploy for self-aggrandizement, as William Elliot did.  Nor  would she look approvingly on the glibly confident Captain Wentworth, whose trusting to luck for his future (27) would convey to the dowager not merely irresponsibility, but downright cockiness.  Disabused of her reliance on “appearance,” Lady Russell has “nothing less … to do, than to admit that she had been completely wrong, and to take up a new set of opinions and of hopes” (249).  And this is precisely what the “very good” and “sensible” Lady Russell does (249).

But while her godmother was deluded by “appearance,” Anne – young woman in love that she was and more familiar (than Lady Russell could possibly be) with the “real” Frederick Wentworth who existed underneath the cocky public facade – saw in the young man the makings of the mature, sensitive man who appears so admirably at the end of Persuasion.  Likewise, Anne had confidence in the fortuneless Wentworth that he would be “lucky” (27) and make his fortune.10  She did not mistake the manners for the man, while her godmother thought the manners were the man.  Anne’s youthful, romantic perspicacity and confidence were ultimately justified, “as the event decide[d]” (246).  Thus, in the long run, Lady Russell did “err in her advice,” but she based that advice on the cavalier Frederick she saw in 1806.  Anne never saw a cavalier Frederick; she romantically saw the navy hero that he, in fact, turned out to be.  And after eight years of suffering, Anne – however sensible and mature she is at age twenty-seven – now that she is finally reunited with the lover who she thought was lost to her forever, would naturally say, “I … never should, in any circumstance of tolerable similarity, give such advice” (246).11  But the experience of life has taught Anne a lesson that Lady Russell knew in 1806, when she dispensed her advice to her goddaughter.  As Anne says, “It was … one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides …” (246, my italics).

In fact, the “event” turned out happily, with Anne and Frederick joined in a marriage of love, passion (“You pierce my soul,” wrote Frederick to Anne [237]), respect, compassion, and financial security – but not physical security, insofar as the naval profession carries the “tax of quick alarm,” as Austen realistically observes in the last sentence of the novel (252).  And Lady Russell is now the beloved and loving mother-figure to Captain and Mrs. Frederick Wentworth.  Despite her mistaking the surface manners for the inner man, the sensible godmother really did know best.

The defense for Lady Russell rests.





1 The Novels of Jane Austen, ed. R. W. Chapman, 3rd ed., 5 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1932-34), 5:27.  All subsequent citations to Austen’s novels are to this edition and are given in the text.


2 John Halperin, The Life of Jane Austen (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 300.  The material leading to this conclusion reads: “Lady Russell has an overblown ‘value for rank and consequence’ which has ‘blinded her … to the faults’ of those who possess them.  Because of her social prejudices she misjudges both Wentworth and William Elliot … and gives Anne bad advice.”  Similar charges are levelled at Lady Russell by Marvin Mudrick, Jane Austen: Irony as Defense and Discovery (1952; rpt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 234; and Howard S. Babb, Jane Austen’s Novels: The Fabric of Dialogue ([Hamden, Conn.]; Archon Books, 1967), 213.  Readers who suggest the dowager is untrustworthy, unperceptive, and/or unsympathetic include Jane Nardin, Those Elegant Decorums: The Concept of Propriety in Jane Austen’s Novels (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1973), 148; Alison G. Sulloway, Jane Austen and the Province of Womanhood (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989), 215; Mary Margaret Benson, “Mothers, Substitute Mothers, and Daughters in the Novels of Jane Austen,” Persuasions 11 (1989), 119; A. Walton Litz, Jane Austen: A Study of Her Artistic Development (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), 154; Ann Molan, “Persuasion in ‘Persuasion’,” The Critical Review 24 (1982), 16-29; and Stuart M. Tave, Some Words of Jane Austen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), 273.


3 For Sir Walter’s firm belief that an active naval career has a deleterious effect on one’s personal appearance, see particularly pages 19-20 of the novel.


4 When Lady Russell objects to Frederick’s having “no connexions to secure even his farther rise in” the navy, we should not interpret this as an example of her “value for rank and consequence” (11).  (It is interesting to speculate that Frederick must have never mentioned to anyone other than Anne during his initial visit to Somersetshire that he had a naval “connexion” in his sister, the wife of Admiral Croft.  Mrs. Croft says in 1814 that she has been married for fifteen years [70] and thus would have been married to the admiral for seven years by 1806.)  Jane Austen, of course, knew the value of “connexions.”  Charles and Frank Austen’s naval careers benefited from their father’s writing to patrons and using “connexions” on their behalf.  See Park Honan, Jane Austen: Her Life (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1987), 68-69, 161, passim.  Lady Russell’s apprehensions about Frederick’s lack of “connexions,” then, reflect a realistic understanding of how professional advancement in the navy could be facilitated.  We also see this in Mansfield Park, where Henry Crawford’s uncle, an admiral, expedites William Price’s promotion.


5 I agree with Tony Tanner when he states, “Lady Russell is by no means one of Jane Austen’s malign characters.  On the contrary she is a ‘benevolent, charitable, good woman ….’  She is genuinely fond of Anne and truly appreciates all her qualities and virtues.  Anne loves her to the end ….”  However, we begin to part ways as he continues in the next sentence: “But ‘she had prejudices on the side of ancestry ….’  In a word, she favours the old order of society and cannot always see its derelictions and delinquencies” (246-47).  Calling the world depicted in the novel “a society-without-a-centre,” he concludes that Lady Russell must learn to “turn … away from … many of the old values (248-49).  Such values include “rely[ing] on the once-reliable signs of ‘propriety’ and ‘correctness,’ ‘manners’ and ‘politeness.’  In a changing society a more emotional, ‘romantic’ personal code is emerging as both desirable and necessary ...” (248).  On the other hand, Marilyn Butler argues that Jane Austen is applying a conservative, Evangelical attitude to Persuasion, critical of the aristocracy’s “moral backsliding.”  See her Jane Austen and the War of Ideas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 284.


6 Citing the passage in question, Darrel Mansell in The Novels of Jane Austen: An interpretation (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973), 209, says “When Lady Russell is first introduced, her author’s treatment of her is curiously qualified and shifty – even wary (p. 11).  As the novel progresses one continues to get this sense; and near the end Anne is finally made to face up squarely to a question that may have been bothering Jane Austen all along: was Lady Russell right, wrong, or something else, in persuading Anne eight years ago ‘to believe the engagement a wrong thing’ (p. 27)?” Mansell’s “something else” deals with the tensions implicit in following one’s “duty.”  But the “something else” I suggest deals with Lady Russell’s suspicions that Anne may be repeating her mother’s youthful error.  An opposing view to mine is stated by Mary Margaret Benson (n. 2, above), who writes, “Lady Russell is … blind, first when she encourages Anne’s marriage to Charles Musgrove, and, later, when she encourages Anne’s marriage to Mr. Elliot, considering his rank, future position and wealth enough to ensure Anne’s happiness; she acknowledges none of Lady Elliot’s marital unhappiness, and never quite realized that she would doom Anne to the same” (119).  I believe Ms. Benson overlooked some important considerations when she wrote that statement.


7 LeRoy W. Smith, Jane Austen and the Drama of Woman (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983), 153.  Alistair Duckworth in The Improvement of the Estate: A Study of Jane Austen’s Novels (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971) notes that because Anne was “Young, motherless, and without benefit of paternal approval, [she] had … acceded to the ‘persuasion’ of her only real friend.  Lady Russell …” (194).  We can extend Professor Duckworth’s observation: with Lady Elliot dead and Sir Walter concerned exclusively with himself and the daughter most like him, Elizabeth, Lady Russell assumes the roles of both parents for Anne.


8 As Jane Austen tells us outright in the novel, to Sir Walter and Elizabeth, Anne “was nobody … she was only Anne” (5).


9 Admittedly, it is easy to interpret Lady Russell’s saying that Lady Dalrymple “ ‘was an acquaintance worth having’ ” (150) and her “fresh arrang[ing] all her evening engagements in order to wait on her” (158) as signs of her “value for rank and consequence” (4).  She is not, however, impressed with the Viscountess and her daughter, for after meeting them, she “confessed that she had expected something better” (150).  In a person of such delicacy as Lady Russell, this understated comment is strong criticism, indeed.  While she juggles her calendar in order to accept their invitation, she does not berate Anne – as Sir Walter does – for choosing to maintain her previous engagement with Mrs. Smith in lieu of waiting on Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret.  And she does not behave sycophantically towards the Viscountess as Sir Walter and Elizabeth do: recall that she “could [not] admire” the fawning letter that Sir Walter wrote to Lady Dalrymple to re-open the acquaintance (149).  Thus, Lady Russell’s saying that Lady Dalrymple and her daughter are “acquaintance worth having” is merely a polite acknowledgement of socially prudent, decorous behavior.


10 Young Wentworth’s facile association of luck with money is echoed by the eager child, Paul, in D. H. Lawrence’s classic short story, “The Rockinghorse Winner,” and thus underscores how naive Frederick’s claims must have sounded to Lady Russell.


11 It should be mentioned that earlier in the novel, Anne makes a virtually identical remark to herself, saying that she would never give a young person counsel such as she had received which would result in his or her experiencing “such certain immediate wretchedness” as she, herself, has experienced (29).  She says this just after learning that the Crofts, Frederick’s sister and brother-in-law, are to lease her family home, which fact causes “a revival of former pain” (30).  I would propose that on both occasions of her making these same self-reflective comments, she is inspired to do so by the highly emotional nature of each: the first occasion she finds very upsetting, while the second she finds joyous and is romantically nostalgic about her previous eight years of loneliness.  Anne, remember, is a woman of both sense and “feeling” (26) or sensibility.

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