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Persuasion 200: Benwick Learns of Fanny Harville’s Death — 27 Comments

  1. Oh, Jane, what a beautiful and heartbreaking scene… Thank you for bringing us into the mind and memories of Benwick and for sharing some of Byron’s poetry as well — a perfectly fitting choice!

  2. That was so heartbreakingly beautiful, Jane. Gorgeous, evocative writing and drawing deep emotion as you read. I am sniffing back the tears myself!

    I loved the way you incorporated the poetry too. Really lovely piece.

  3. Thank you, Cassandra-it was really tough to write that scene-I don’t really enjoy writing sad ones. Poor Benwick. That’s one of my favourite poems.

  4. It is a sad and poignant tale, Jane. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading the memories of Captain Benwick and Fanny Harville which are not expanded on in Persuasion. Thank you very much for sharing it, Jane.

  5. Jane, this was moving and so beautiful. It really opens up the character of Benwick in a new way, and adds a much needed perspective. The poetry enhanced it beautifully. It really is a pity that it ended in such tragedy for the young couple, and it somewhat echoes Frederick and Anne’s dilemma. In each couple one of them voted for lifestyle over love. In Anne’s case, it was because she listened to what would have been conventional wisdom and was guided by a close friend, but not because she wanted or needed the lifestyle. She was simply taking advise from a much loved friend. I think if she had realized the ramifications and misery in store for her, she would have chosen differently. In Benwick’s case, he wanted to give Fanny everything in a material sense. If he had married her, she might not have lived the life of luxury he wanted her to have, but she might have lived, and she would have been happy. This was a real tragedy for him to realize too late that he made what proved to be the wrong decision for him. I often wondered if he could really be happy with Charles Musgroves’ silly younger sister. But it isn’t just he. I wonder if anyone of his sensibility would ever be happy being happy? Maybe I’m not giving him or the human spirit enough credit for resiliency. The fact that he did chose someone else probably answers the question satisfactorily. In the book he seemingly defined himself by tragedy, and I could never make the bridge connecting his past and present. Thanks very much for filling in the blanks. It really adds to the understanding of the character, and it was a very beautiful addition. Your writing is the real treasure. Your insights and creativity are a delight, and your writing is just excellent. I actually almost didn’t read this because I always found his character depressing when my younger self read the original. Subsequent readings did little to change that opinion. I am glad I took a chance and read this. It was just beautiful and logical.

  6. Mari, thank you so much for your beautiful words too! Yes, I do feel for Benwick in many respects at this point in the story. It’s an awful thing to realise what you’ve lost when it’s too late, and in this case, nothing can be reversed. I’ve always thought Louisa Musgrove was probably not the best person for him, especially as he was attracted to like-minded Anne-I can only hope Louisa has hidden depths. I suppose she did come to appreciate poetry in the end, which has to be a plus. And maybe it’s a case of opposites attracting the other? Thanks again for stopping by.

  7. I loved reading Benwick’s perspective — very nicely done. Like you, Jane, I have wondered how Benwick will fare with Louisa. It’s a convenient match for the plot, but I wonder how successful it will be. Still, with Benwick so depressed someone lively and cheerful might be just what he needs.

    • Thank you, Monica! Yes, I hope Louisa can lively him up a bit-it’s a funny thing, isn’t it, the law of attraction?

  8. This was so very agonizingly beautiful. Poor Benwick. He blames himself for Fanny’s death, for if he’d had her with him she wouldn’t have become ill, he must reason. “If only he’d listened to her. They could have been married, and she could have been here with him on this very vessel,” He loved her so and, to him, life now has no meaning “it all meant nothing now”.’ I always felt for Benwick. He is a tragic figure. Your use of Byron’s poem was so touching. I too could picture Benwick and Fanny reading poetry together. I too believe he was a sensitive soul. I love how you made the connection, as Mari noted, between the past and the scene in Persuasion when he and Anne were talking of poetry when in Lyme. I am looking forward to seeing how Benwick ends up having feelings for Louisa Musgrove. I don’t know if he could fall in love again after being so deeply in love with Fanny, but he is not one who should be alone forever.

    Thank you for writing such an poignant scene. It evoked emotions from highs to lows. I so loved it, sad as it was. It nearly made me cry. Beautiful. I could feel Benwick’s emotions. It was as if I was there with him reading his thoughts and witnessing the events as they happened.

  9. Thank you, Deborah for your truly lovely comments-I’m so pleased you enjoyed it even if it is so sad. I think it will be an interesting exercise for whoever writes the scenes with Benwick falling in love with Louisa-how he is able to justify falling in love again after such a short interval! Thanks again for stopping by.

  10. I’ve often wondered, too, if Benwick would be happy with Louisa Musgrove, but she did have a rather life-changing experience. Perhaps she became more sensitive and less silly. I’m just thankful they did take to each other which left Wentworth free to go after Anne!

  11. Susan, perhaps the bump to her head changed her! I like that idea- and thank goodness Louisa and Benwick did fall for one another-the alternative is unthinkable!

  12. Beautifully written, Jane. And what a stroke of genius to introduce Benwick’s love of poetry at this point. I think I had it in my mind that he discovered it later, as a way to wallow in his sorrow (“Too much poetry may be unsafe!”). But I prefer your interpretation – that it was something longstanding which he had shared with Fanny. Also enjoyed how you remembered to mention the miniature, which we will see again later. 🙂

    • Thank you, Shannon-you’re very kind! I was inspired by Jane Austen sending Marmion to her brother Charles. I like to imagine that the Naval officers might have enjoyed reading some of those epic poems in the evenings when their work was done.

  13. Well, I did cry…so poignant and all the main components: his (and her) love of poetry, the miniature, which played such a part in the scene at Bath…leading to comments which Frederick overheard and then his letter (oh, his letter -sigh!) and the regrets about paths not taken. And, as commented on above – how both couples had one who wanted to wait or who saw marriage as hindering a career.

    This was SUCH a touching piece – could not have been any better. Thank you.

  14. Sheila, thank you so much for your lovely words of praise-I’m sorry to make you cry, but I must admit, that’s just the reaction I wanted! ; )

  15. Heartbreaking…life is so short as it is but I wonder if Fanny had a premonition that she wouldn’t live long? Thank you for the this touching chapter and the appropriate Bryon poetry. I too wonder at Louisa but with such an injury at that time, I feel it would have changed her to some degree.

  16. Thank you, Carole-I wanted to ‘paint’ Fanny as being rather delicate-perhaps in mind and spirit, as well as her slight form-not able to cope easily when Benwick is away at sea. Yes, I’m sure Louisa’s accident would have changed her.

  17. A beautifully written glimpse of Benwick and his Fanny…heartbreaking loss for him..I often think he made a quick and poor choice in Louisa, her personality before her fall just doesn’t seem a good match to his somber personality…he is a romantic at heart and I think he fell in love with the damsel in distress…but when she has recovered fully things may seem different…if Louisa has changed as is suggested then they may have a chance..if not I foresee a miserable future…similar to Mr and Mrs Bennett

  18. Yes, Stephanie, Louisa doesn’t seem to be his intellectual equal-I suppose it could go either way. A fascinating subject to think about-they clearly fall in love because they are thrown together for a long time and then Louisa learns to love poetry, but will that be enough? Thank you for stopping by!

  19. Very sad, yet it shows his ability to love deeply. I hope Louisa appreciates him.

    Thanks also for the picture of Jane’s brother. I hope she looked like him – very handsome!

  20. June, I hope Louisa appreciates him, and it’s not just an attraction off the rebound! Yes, Charles is very handsome, isn’t he? Henry was supposed to be the really good-looking one, but there is only a portrait of him when he’s a lot older with a receding hairline-more’s the pity! Thank you for stopping by.

  21. Thank you, Monica! I just reasoned that, as a reading man, he would enjoy poetry. I suspect he got into the heavier stuff after Fanny died-just my idea-I could be wrong-wish we could ask Jane ! : )

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