The first half of volume 2 brings us back to Sir Walter and Elizabeth: the relatives from whom no absence is long enough. Having spent much time in the presence of very good, open-hearted people, the difference is felt more keenly. Ridicule of Sir Walter's priorities becomes more blatant, and the reader feels, as Anne must, that the idle conversations are an poor way to pass the time.
Noticeable in this section is Anne's relative assertiveness. Anne states her mind after Mary asserts that Lady Russell "will not find any thing very agreeable" in Captain Benwick. Mary says, "He is one of the dullest young men that ever lived." Anne has no problem contradicting her, and hearing Anne's voice (for what feels like the first time) is welcome relief.
In fact, we hear much more of Anne's voice, (rather than solely her thoughts and observations,) throughout this segment. I believe this reflects a restoration of life and hope, in addition to a general gain of gumption. She has faced what she had lived in dread of, (seeing Wentworth again,) and she has survived. Her disappointment did not spell the end of her.
|Camden Place in Bath|
"They brought with them their country habit of being almost always together."
While the Crofts (whom I love) are being spoken of, I must use a quote of Admirable Croft's to mention Austen's use of parenthesis. I love using parenthesis myself, and so of course it makes me smile how Austen uses them. Doesn't it just transport you to the scene itself?
"I wonder where that boat was built!" (laughing heartily) "I would not venture over a horsepond in it. Well," (turning away) "now, where are you bound?"
I like it, and all the more for the fact that it feels unexpected from a book written nearly 200 years ago. Another practice Austen uses is free indirect speech, which is shown at the beginning of chapter four, and which also serves to make a scene come alive...though I'm certain that it could also (in combination with the abundance of punctuation) be confusing to a reader unaccustomed to it. It makes me happy. (Another item of humor in the following excerpt, by the way, being that Gowland's Lotion contained mercuric chloride, a derivative of sulphuric acid, a.k.a. chemical peel. ouch.)
In the course of the same morning, Anne and her father chancing to be alone together, he began to compliment her on her improved looks; he thought her "less thin in her person, in her cheeks; her skin, her complexion, greatly improved—clearer, fresher. Had she been using anything in particular?" "No, nothing." "Merely Gowland," he supposed. "No, nothing at all." "Ha! he was surprised at that;" and added, "certainly you cannot do better than continue as you are; you cannot be better than well; or I should recommend Gowland, the constant use of Gowland, during the spring months."
Now that I've talked at great length about punctuation (wasn't that exciting?) I suppose it's time to wrap up, though I have one more point to address. Isn't it an interesting contrast that the man who declares he is ready and willing to love any young lady (Wentworth) ends up holding out for something more perfect, while the man who is so bereft that he shall never rise out of his misery (Benwick) ends up being quickly consolable after all?