Persuasion 200: The Musgroves Talk About the Elliots — 31 Comments

  1. It was so nice to see that Anne is actually cared about by the elder Musgroves, Diana. I love that they see through the Elliotts and Mrs. Clay. They seem to genuinely care about Anne, which is so wonderful. I wonder how they will view Anne’s and Wentworth’s reactions to one another and interpret their interactions. The Musgrovea take Mary as the lesser of 2 evils, which she is, when compared to Elizabeth. But, she’s not Anne. Thank you for such a delightful (as Martha Claycomb stated ) piece of writing. I enjoyed it very much. It made me smile and endeared me to the elder Musgroves.

    • Thank you, Deborah, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I would guess that most of the neighborhood knows exactly what to think about Sir Walter and Elizabeth, don’t you think?

  2. Yes, ‘delightful’ was the first word coming to my mind too!

    Really enjoyed this, Diana, as always when you write! Loved how you captured each of the characters so well. I too feel comforted to know Anne has some who love her and that she will get to spend time with them to counterbalance the demands of Mary’s moods!

    • Thank you, Susan – and SO much for the tech support, I think my computer is bewitched! Maybe Mrs. Clay got her hands on it!

  3. Ooh, that Mary! Why did Charles marry her???? The Musgroves would have been such lovely in-laws for Anne, if only…. well, if Anne could be cloned… or if Charles could leave Anne as a young widow… sigh…

    Thank you for the visit! You wrote so well that I suffered through the bits with sulky Mary.

    • Thank you, June! My theory is that poor Mary suffered from her childbirths. She might have had something like a prolapsed uterus or torn tissue and there was no way to treat her then. She might have been a likeable enough young woman when she and Charles were courting!

  4. Poor Anne, How did someone so good come from this family. Mary is too much. Here in the South we would be discussing 2X4s and an application to Mary’s head. Mary is as spoiled as Elizabeth but probably had to be “ill” to get attention. Especially if she wasn’t as pretty as Elizabeth. She would have been very young when her mother died and probably didn’t have the benefit of Lady Russell. I want to feel sorry for her because she is in a tough position but still she is making it worse if her in-laws are so vocal. Amazing also that the Elizabeth and Sir Walter are the only ones that don’t see through Mrs. Clay. Shows how much they are ego driven. Great piece!

    • Thanks, Maggie, glad you enjoyed my imaginings about the Elliots! You are making me think more about Mary, and I think it’s possible to feel sorry for her. Just think what a sad and lonely childhood she must have had. Her kind mother dying when she was quite young, her father such a selfish idiot, Elizabeth not filling a motherly role but caring nothing for her, and Anne was away at school. Jane Austen said that Anne was a heroine who was “almost too perfect for her,” but although she is very obliging to Mary now, we don’t get the sense that she ever did very much for her as an older sister, when Mary was growing up, and there is not a real closeness between them now. Perhaps if Anne had been more caring to Mary when they were young, Mary might not have grown up to be such a pill? Just speculating…

  5. I’m loving this ‘insight’ into the characters! I always wondered if half of Mary’s problems were the emotional neglect of her family and then being the ‘second choice’ of Charles (if she ever knew that, I’m not sure but she may have ‘overheard conversation?). The insecurities of growing up under such a constant flow of the ‘great consequence’ of the Elliots and trying to find her place in it. Mind you, it doesn’t excuse her behaviour, but it would go a long way in understanding why she feels the need to act the way she does. I think Anne understands that and is more empathetic and cajoling of her, tiring as it may be.

    • Thanks, Carole, for your insights about Mary. Certainly growing up in the Elliot household, as the “least and last” – and in Sir Walter’s eyes, the plainest – would be damaging indeed. She actually reminds me of my runt cat, the smallest and most physically inferior of a litter of three. She grew up sort of whiny and needy out of a need to assert herself. Fortunately little Tully is adored and loved in our household, but even though Charles is a nice fellow and a decent husband, he doesn’t really understand Mary or her feelings of inferiority and neglect. He’s terribly patient, putting up with her, but it isn’t enough to change the way she is…if that’s even possible!

  6. Well, it is so nice to hear that at least there are some like the Musgroves who likes Anne for who she is and treat her with respect. unlike how she is treated in her own family circle. I really enjoyed learning the honest and true opinion of Mr and Mrs Musgrove and their two daughters on the unfortunate circumstances that had befallen Sir Walter. And they too can see through Mrs Clay’s intentions.

  7. Thanks, Mary. I may have overdone it about the Musgroves liking Anne, since in Persuasion they don’t really pay her much attention; but they’re generally benevolent. And they certainly see through Mrs. Clay! Jane Austen tells us that everybody does, except Sir Walter and Elizabeth!

  8. I felt relieved reading about the Musgroves — finally a “normal” family with some sensible perceptions of things! I was heartened to find some characters that valued Anne, in spite of her awful family. It’s true that Mary should be thankful she doesn’t continue to live at home with her vain and selfish father and eldest sibling — she could have so much to be grateful for in her marriage. Maybe it is some kind of illness that makes her so peevish all the time. Thank you for the entertaining chapter!

    • Yes, the Musgroves are kind of a relief after the awful Elliots, aren’t they, Kathy! I must say I feel I’m getting to know and have more sympathy for Mary, in examining her. I’m doing another story about her next week so we’ll see where that takes us…

    • Thank you dearest Jane. I am DROOLING over your Diamonds theme – oh what a genius idea! Wish I’d got there first! Maybe I could do Romance and Rhinestones…

  9. Part of me wants to feel sorry for Mary and the only way I can is to make excuses fof her during her early upbringing. With a most kind sister away at school, an older egotistic, narcissistic sister and father, I’d say she was left to the housekeeper (did they ever have a governess? I think not.) Mary adopted the ways of her father &Elizabeth, she had no other guidance as to how to think and act. Mores the pity. I thoroughly enjoy what you’ve done so far. You have given so much more depth to my favorite Austen novel,

    • Linda, what a lovely thing to say, thank you so much! You know, I’m really thinking that Mary truly was neglected, to the point off what we’d call abuse. She is never seen to interact with her father and sister. She is the plainest of the girls and you know what that means to her father. If Anne was “only Anne” to him, think what Mary must have been. Less! Interestingly, the only time he speaks of her he says she has a red nose. (Perhaps from crying!). When Mary comes to Bath, she is in very good spirits, and why? Because of her “independence from Camden Place.” And her sister doesn’t even invite her to dinner. Whew. Isn’t it amazing how Austen actually gives us all these details so economically, without seeming to do it at all!

  10. It’s nice to see other people appreciate Anne and the Musgrove’s appear to be a bit more insightful than they at first seem. Poor Mary, want to pity her for being left motherless at such a young age and left in the care of Sir Walter and Elizabeth but Anne was in a similar situation and she rose above this to become the fine young lady she is.

    • Stephanie, true, but Anne did have a few more advantages than Mary. She knew and was loved and supported by her mother for a few more years than Mary did. She had the affection and esteem of Lady Russell, who felt that “only in Anne did the mother seem to revive again.” Mary had nothing and nobody. She was really neglected, and when she uses the word herself, we laugh, because the Musgroves and Charles certainly are not neglecting her – but she is harking back to that neglected feeling she has had all her life, poor thing!

  11. This episode is perfect – exactly how I think the Musgroves viewed the Elliots. I seem to remember that when the Musgroves came to Bath they told Charles that he would have to get tickets to a play (?) for a different night due to the fact that Anne could not attend the night for which he originally had secured tickets. And then the scene during the long walk the sisters took with Charles, Mary, Anne and Captain Wentworth during which Anne overheard Louise relate to the captain how everyone wished Charles had marries Anne instead of Mary. So this scene perfectly reinforces how the Musgroves felt about Mary and Anne. Well done.

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