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Persuasion 200: Anne Refuses Charles Musgrove’s Proposal — 30 Comments

  1. Loved the way you wrote this. I believe Lady Russell thought Anne would refuse Charles and so set up this little ambush with Mrs. Musgrove to try to force Anne to accept Charles’ suit. He is very considerate of her feelings and eases her departure. I don’t believe they imagined she would decline him, not with both of them there. Charles’ consideration defines their friendship for later in the book. I was actually surprised at his insightfulness in realising Anne was in love with another, maybe he really did love her. He says that, “I will torture neither one of us any longer. If you cannot love me, I must look elsewhere for a wife”. Anne was being tortured by memories. Was this Charles hinting that he was being tortured by her refusal? Poor Anne. I am glad Anne stuck to her guns and showed some backbone.

    Thank you, Jane. Very nicely done. I felt Anne’s turmoil and felt a little badly for Charles.

    • Thank you, Deborah-that’s so kind of you! Yes, I think Lady Russell is a schemer even if she has Anne’s best interests at heart. And though Anne is quite a compliant character she will not be persuaded to marry where she does not love. I think Charles is probably quite a nice fellow though quick to say he must look for another! Typical of his class and the age, I think.

      • Please don’t send the hounds after me, but in this Charles’ attitude reminds me of William Collins’ after Elizabeth rejects him. OK. So I can’t make up my mind. Maybe Charles only feels an attraction to Anne. Though why would he then say he would not torture either one any longer?

        • Yes, Deborah-I agree-I don’t think Charles is desperately in love but he does want a wife. When he says he would not torture either one I think he would say what he thinks is expected… Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

  2. You have written another lovely chapter. I must admit that Persuasion has never been a favorite of mine, and most retellings of the tale only confirm my aversion! I have been following the Austen Variations version, but not that closely. When I saw that you had written today’s chapter, I had to read it, and I am so glad that I did. You write of people’s thoughts and feelings so beautifully, and are not heavy handed with it. This makes for a pleasant, thought provoking interlude for the reader. I can not honestly say I like Persuasion more after today, but neither do I dislike it more! Anne has always been a difficult character for me to warm up to after Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse. They are more lively and likable than poor Anne, who always seems so dreary and tepid. Not that she doesn’t have reason to be either. Her relatives are unfeeling and appalling, and her friend isn’t much better. The way you write Anne, is making me take a second look at a book that previously made me cringe. It has all the elements of a great story: tragic, plucky heroine, cads aplenty, ample wit and sarcasm, and yet it has always fallen short for me. Your writing gives me a new and welcome perspective. I will reread the original, and who knows: after this, I may even revert to disliking Lady Susan more! Again, thank you for some lovely writing. You make Charles Musgrove into a real person for me, and I see new aspects to him that I have previously overlooked. He was always a nice fellow, but now he seems good and noble as well. Another splendid chapter to savor. Thank you Jane.

    • Mari, thank you so much for your lovely comments-I really enjoyed writing it though I did go over it a few times because I kept changing my mind about how Anne would refuse him. In the end, I thought Charles would realise it was a hopeless case and he’s enough of a gentleman to know when he’s beaten! Anne has pluck, I think- though persuaded to refuse Commander Wentworth, she knows that she was wrong to do so and will not be persuaded by anyone again!
      I hope you re-read Persuasion because it is my favourite (as much as I also love P&P) I think it’s really the first book where Jane really showed so much more emotion on the page and gave us insights to how Anne, in particular, was feeling. Also, if you get hold of a copy of the 1995 adaptation with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root I think it will give you an additional insight into the book- it’s pretty close to the original-I love it-hope if you get a chance to watch it that you do too!

      • I did actually see the adaptation with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. They were wonderful enough to make me enjoy watching that version. I think my problem is that I see Anne with modern eyes instead of seeing her a product of the early nineteenth century. If I take it in the context that she was acting appropriately and reasonably for the times and mores, it makes more sense. Whenever I think of Anne, I will think of Miss Root’s masterful acting, and I will be more sympathetic. Instead of seeing Anne as a wimp, I need to see her as the strong, constant, and courageous woman she was revealed to be. Thanks for the reminder.

        • It’s difficult to put ourselves into the minds of women who lived 200 years ago, I agree. Yes, I think Anne is strong and courageous, and she proves that by being constant to the man she loves.

  3. Lovely chapter! This certainly made me like Charles more and made me even sorrier he ended up with Mary! To add to the discussion of Anne’s personality and character, I have always seen her as exceedingly shy. As a result, when she was young, she tended to be a little unsure of herself and influenced by others. As a result of losing Wentworth, she learned to listen to her inner voice. I really respect that. She is much stronger than people realize. Her family may not see it, but she is the rock that holds them together. With no one to depend on once Anne is married, her father and sister Elizabeth are going to have some serious difficulties.

    • Susan, I completely agree! Anne is probably not timid or shy, by nature, but has become so as a result of her familial influences. You would have to be a very strong character to survive the insidious bullying of Sir Walter and his daughter Elizabeth. She relies on her own voice, as you say, and though persuaded by others, she is a rock that keeps the family together-exactly! Thank you so much for your insightful comments!

  4. I’m glad Mrs. Musgrove and Lady Russell left the room! For a minute there, I thought Anne was going to have to give her answer in front of them all! Horrors!

    I enjoyed this very much, Jane, especially that Anne recalled her mother’s own unhappiness in marriage to give her even more reason to stick to her convictions and refuse Charles’ proposal. And now I hope you’ve convinced Mari (above) to give Persuasion another chance too!

    • Thank you, Shannon- I quite agree- Anne has so many reasons to stick to her convictions, and I really hope Mari gives Persuasion another chance-it’s such a wonderful novel.

  5. Lady Russell is quite officious in this additional scene, which suits my image of her well. Thanks for this excellent chapter.!

    • Leslie, I totally agree, I think she is a bit of a bossy boots-even if she ‘thinks’ she’s doing her best for Anne! Thank you so much for your kind comments.

  6. You’ve done a lovely job of showing what a gentleman Charles is, and how Anne’s mother is still present in Anne’s life, still influencing her decisions. Thank you!

  7. Thank you, June-I see Charles as a gentleman and a kind man, though one who doesn’t think too hard about what to look for in a suitable wife. I suspect he hit upon Anne quite by accident because if he’d really given it any proper thought he could never have ended up with Mary! He would have preferred Anne, I’m sure, but was ready to settle for anyone who would have him!

  8. Seeing Charles in a whole new light, what a sweet and kind thing to do,telling Anne he would end his suit but keep their friendship, then letting her slip away without having to deal with Lady Russell and his mother. Poor Charles the limited society of Kellynch and Uppercross and he is left with Mary to wed, would wish a happier ending for him.

    • Stephanie-yes, poor Charles-I don’t think he really deserves Mary, but then he was daft enough to marry her! Thanks so much for your comments!

  9. Thank you for this lovely chapter. I think Charles does come out as being a lot more likable and having more to his character than I remembered (it has admittedly been a while since I read Persuasion, so I don’t recall much about him, other than he was saddled with the other undesirable Elliot sister). It’s notable for Anne that a good marriage example is hard for her to find in her own family, yet it’s what she really believes/hopes for so that no other suitor would have a chance.

  10. Kathy, thank you for your kind comments. I decided Charles must have been a kind character for he and Anne to have resumed their friendship later on. Yes, I think Anne really wants to do better for herself and knows her own mind!

  11. I agree with the above comments and enjoyed your further development of Anne and Charles’ characters… especially showing Charles’ kind and gentlemanly conduct, Jane. Interesting scenario bringing Mrs. Musgrove and Lady Russell together, and it sounded just like Mrs. Musgrove talking! Well done!

    Oh, and I agree totally with you about the excellence of the 1995 movie of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds… They get it exactly right!

  12. I like the scene in which she remembers her mother’s portrait and how vibrant she was in the early days of her marriage and how living without love and respect faded her. And Anne was wise enough not to “settle” for Charles, even though we see he can be nice and thoughtful in his own way. Their friendship as we read it in later years shows how right they both were here to realize this was best. But, poor Charles then did settle for Mary.

    I, too, was afraid Anne was going to have to give her answer in the presence of Lady Russell and Mrs. Musgrove.

    Thank you for a lovely chapter…it blends so well with all we have from JA and the other authors.

  13. Thank you, Sheila-you’re very kind! Yes, I always imagine Anne’s mother must have suffered a lot living with Sir Walter. I thought I’d try and make your hearts flutter at the thought of Anne being cornered by the ladies-but I couldn’t be so cruel to Anne. Thank you again for stopping by!

  14. Lady Russell is clever to have take advantage of the Musgroves’ visit but it’s not enough to encourage Anne to accept Charles Musgrove’s proposal. I’m glad that Charles sees Anne’s distress and decided to free her. It bodes well for his character to be understanding and kind.

    • Thank you, Luthien-no, Anne is made of sterner stuff. Charles must be kind to take Mary on, I think! Thank you for stopping by!

  15. Beautifully written, Jane. You portray Anne’s inner turmoil so well.

    I like the way you developed Charles Musgrove and agree with others I feel even more badly for him ending up with Mary than I do when I read the novel – poor man!

    Loved your depiction of Elizabeth, so suitably arrogant and rude!

    I also loved the description of the weather as Anne walked and it suiting the moment. Just a lovely piece of writing throughout.

  16. Lady Russell trying to influence Anne again but Anne now knows her own heart. At least Charles realizes that he can never have Anne’s love or heart and is gracious enough to let her go…

    Beautifully written Jane…thank you.

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