|Yes, that is my Persuasion scarf printed |
with Wentworth's letter. I love it! :)
It is no secret that Persuasion
is my favorite of Jane Austen's books. Of course, I admit that I haven't read all six books yet, but still. There's just something about Anne and Wentworth that keeps me returning to their story again and again! :) While the biggest pull of their story is Anne herself (I happen to think she's pretty awesome
!), I cannot deny that Wentworth's glorious letter to her, which changes the course of their romance most wonderfully, is also a big reason why.
So! As part of Hamlette's very cool I Love Jane Austen Week
, I am here to talk about this letter and why I love it so much. Y'all know I love to analyze! ;)
"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
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."
First of all, is that not a beautiful and romantic letter to receive from the love of your life? The feelings he portrays to her, the proof that after these many weeks of frustration and uncertainty, all that she's been dreaming of is actually true! It's no wonder that Ms. Austen follows it up with this: "Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from...
" *happy sigh*
But let's get to the nitty gritty, how about it?
I love that he details his feelings. It's not just that he tells her he still loves her, but that he desires to use these few words to describe to her exactly what he feels
and what she does to him, how she affects his heart and every action
. He proves that he's now unafraid to make it known precisely how her voice, her opinions, and her very presence nearby all agitate him in the best ways possible.
Up to this point of the story, we have spent almost all of the time with Anne and how she's been viewing Wentworth's actions. Through her eyes, though she loves him dearly, he has seemed detached and angry. It isn't until more recent to this scene that she even begins to have the slightest bit of hope he may return her feelings. And even that bit of hope is pretty minuscule. So to realize that many times when he seemed to be indifferent, he was actually noticing every little thing about her and wanted so badly to tell her so? Talk about melting your heart! I mean, read those words up there again. "I have loved none but you
." "You alone have brought me to Bath
." "I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me
." "...I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others
." "...most fervent, most undeviating
..." Those are very passionate statements! Even today, I'd think a woman receiving this sort of letter would be hard put to not be moved by it! (I know I would anyway. ;) Plus if you read the context of the scene when he's writing this letter, he's having to write it quickly and sneakily. She has affected him so severely with what she's said, that he's unable to stick with convention and must
take action! I love that Anne affects him so.
And then immediately following the receipt of this letter, Anne and Wentworth finally come together and the reader begins to fully realize what Wentworth has been going through over the course of the story. I absolutely love that we get to see into his heart in the end. This letter is the catalyst that brings the two characters to a complete understanding, as well as the reader.
I've heard others say how much Wentworth's actions in the beginning of the story has frustrated them. Which I get. But once you've gotten to this portion and start to see inside his heart, it changes your perspective on the earlier happenings. (For instance, "...he was obliged to acknowledge that he had been constant unconsciously, nay unintentionally, that he had meant to forget her, and believed it to be done. He had imagined himself indifferent, when he had only been angry
...", him realizing that he didn't even understand himself for a while. For me, that knowledge allows me to feel more compassion for the moments when he's so unkind to Anne.) So not only does this letter alter what Anne's been thinking of as true, but it can adjust the reader's thoughts as well! When you go back and reread the book a second (or third, or fourth, or tenth) time, you can see beyond what Ms. Austen has written on the surface into what she hid behind. It puts a different spin on a lot of scenes, especially when the characters are visiting Lyme Regis.
(This is one of the many reasons I love Jane Austen's writing. All the nuances that you find! There is so much going on under the surface, but you have to search for it. Often, it seems a reader has to reread the book with knowledge from the previous read in order for their perspective to shift and all those nuances to truly become apparent.)
As this letter gets written during a crucial conversation Anne has with Captain Harville, I must mention that bit as well. How much do I love that convo! I wrote some of my feelings about this scene in a discussion post
during a read-along of Persuasion
a couple years ago and want to share a portion of them...
I have to note that awesome conversation that Captain Harville and Anne have just prior to the letter as well. It is such a crucial moment when Wentworth overhears them and is unable to stay silent any longer. I love how they can't fully agree, yet they know they're both a bit biased in their own favor and still completely understand where the other is coming from. It's a mutual admiration and understanding and it's perfectly timed.
Captain Harville and Captain Wentworth are such good friends and I love, love, love that Harville is a part of this moment! Some of the adaptations have shown scenes where Wentworth and Harville have conversations about Wentworth's feelings for Anne. While those aren't in the book, I have grown to like Harville so well that I love imagining those convos actually happening! :) With the perspective change that comes with knowing Wentworth's true feelings, it only stands to reason that his friends would be privy to some of that as well... (At least in my imagination!) Also, I like to picture Anne and Wentworth spending time with Harville and his family after they're married. And Harville, knowing the full story by then, gently teasing them about that moment... :)
Wentworth's letter helps bring about the perfect happiness of my beloved Anne. I could probably continue on for paragraphs more, repeating over and over how very much I love it! But I'll spare you, don't you worry. Only, I must say this in conclusion. It's a beautifully heartfelt letter that makes me swoon a little bit inside every time I read it! And when any (more current) author alludes to it in their work, whether by referencing it specifically or writing a similar letter as a catalyst for two characters to come together, it makes my heart dance with happy! How about you?