When Captain Frederick Wentworth proposed, Anne Elliot was over the moon with delight. However, her high spirits were surely crushed to discover that not only did her father think him an unworthy attachment, but so too did Lady Russell! Her inner turmoil must have been considerable in deciding how best to proceed. Here is my attempt to capture her feelings on this, a most defining moment in her young life. It is (obviously) told from Anne’s point of view:
It is an impossible decision! One I cannot credit. When Frederick proposed, I was suffused with joy. That there might be difficulties barely troubled my thoughts. And now, it is all I think of!
I can perhaps understand how Father might not wish the alliance. He tends to be rather short-sighted and has no doubt judged Frederick based on his lack of fortune and connexions. But Lady Russell’s warnings and discouragement come as a most unwelcome surprise!
I have confided in her how happy Frederick makes me! In his company I never feel neglected or inadequate. His gentle, attentive smiles and kind words nourish a sense of worth that, at times, manages to elude me. I have accepted his proposal, and with it, a future of living humbly. I know we would do so quite happily! But Frederick is brilliant and wise, full of optimism and high spirits, and I share his belief that only time stands between him and an impressive, lucrative career. He will make something of himself—beyond the wonderful man he is today. Of that, I have no doubt.
I trust him, his aspirations and his dreams, but it seems Lady Russell does not. Her opinion of me is so favorable that I fear it quite overwhelms her thinking. She would have me believe that Frederick is somehow not worthy of an alliance with our family—with me. It is simply not true! She worries that I will regret my reduced circumstances, the loneliness when he is at sea, and the narrowing of my social circle, and I cannot convince her otherwise. I insist that I am not like my father and would give up every comfort for a life with Frederick. I know I would be infinitely happier and more cherished with him than I would be at home, without him. And still she would have me reject him!
With no mother and no encouragement to confide in my sisters, I have come to depend quite strongly on Lady Russell’s counsel. And while I don’t agree with her reasoning in this matter, I fear I am forced to lend credence to her way of thinking, if only for Frederick’s sake. A marriage, before he’s yet had the opportunity to make his name and fortune, while utterly pleasing to me, might very well hinder him. He might eventually come to regret his impulsive offer! It is that devastating eventuality that haunts me. Honestly, I would rather let him go than risk such an ending to the love that has sprung up so sharply and suddenly between us.
I know Father had no aspirations that I would ever marry. Perhaps I was too optimistic, too capricious with my hopes and dreams. Perhaps I didn’t fully think things through. For I would never wish to be a burden on the man I love. I would rather risk my own happiness than ask that he risk his for me. Even if it is to be my only chance at happiness…
I am distraught and feeling very alone—and full of dread for the moment I must face him. Oh, how different this meeting will be than our last… For now I must go back on my word, insist I cannot marry him, and beg his forgiveness. I will endeavor to convince him we must merely delay our happiness until the future is more certain, but, sadly, I suspect his pride will rebel.
How my heart aches for the man who has filled my heart with hope, and despairs of a future without him! I desperately hope he will not be angry with me—I hope he will see why I must do this. But I fear he will not. I fear this will be the end. I will endure it all, certain in the knowledge that I am doing what is right, what is best, for Frederick.
Thanks for reading! I hope my attempt to capture Anne’s internal debate felt authentic. My participation in Persuasion 200 “forced” me to re-read the book that inspired it, as it was no longer fresh in my memory. What a pleasure to revisit the romance of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth—and to join in this memorable project!