Persuasion 200:The Servants Discuss Commander Wentworth by Mary Simonsen — 35 Comments

    • Sir Walter IS clueless, but he makes for comic relief. Thank you for your comment and for sharing.

  1. Enjoyed this very much. Everyone, except those who have a say in Anne’s future, see how happy Wentworth makes Anne and want them to be together. Too bad she isn’t 21, so she’d be of age to make her own decisions. Thank you for an interesting storyline.

  2. I like the downstairs people giving us their perspective. It is a great idea and it reinforces the plot line in a subtle way in case anyone has forgotten certain points. It reminds us of what the Elliot’s are like, and foreshadows Anne’s future unhappiness. The upstairs people are clueless and not supportive of Anne. I always thought of Lady Russell as interfering and officious and not much concerned with Anne’s happiness. Her father and sister are ridiculous and act less like people, and more like caricatures. The story is moving along nicely. Sir Walter always makes me cringe whenever he opens his mouth. Much like Mr. Collins, he has nothing sensible to say, and he is obsessed with his own perceived status, and that of others. Dreadful man!

    • I agree, Mari. Being a baronet probably made Sir Walter a lot more obnoxious than he would otherwise have been. I think Austen wanted us to think that Lady Russell was a true friend of Anne’s, but when seen through modern eyes, her intervention seems officious. And it costs Anne eight years of happiness.

  3. This was lovely, Mary. You have captured the two serving maids’ voices really well, I could picture them lying in their shared bed whispering like this!

    Such a shame we know what’s coming and just how wise Molly the kitchen maid is!

    • When you think of how tied up the servants’ lives were with those of their masters, you can imagine how most of their conversation would have been about the people above stairs.

  4. Portrayed just right. Sad to recollect that children were forced into service back then and considered themselves fortunate to have a “position”. But in hearing them talk about Anne, makes one remember also good people were noticed by people “below” them, testifying to their true worth. Thank you for the chapter.

    • Thank you, Sheila. As someone from a long line of Irish peasants, I know that if I had been alive at that time, I would have worked in the scullery or the laundry, so I am always sympathetic to those below stairs.

  5. Thanks for the different point of view. I hope there will be more servants’ gossip as you all move the story along. As was said above, they know what’s going on!

    • Hi, Leslie. I remember watching Upstairs, Downstairs in the 1970s and how the Bellamy family would speak in French so the servants wouldn’t understand what was going on, but they always figured it out.

  6. That was lovely. Two teenage servant girls with more sense than the master and Lady Russell! 🙂 So glad to hear them speak so highly of Anne’s kind disposition.

    • Hi, Eileen. I think a walnut has more sense than Sir Walter. 🙂 I have to believe that the servants were on Anne’s side, or it would have been just too sad.

  7. What a wonderful peek at the downstairs gossip! Thanks for this. I love that you’ve picked up on the line from the book about Sir Walter thinking that naval men are too “brown.”

    • Hi, Susan. I’m much more of a below stairs girl. In my parody, Anne Elliot, a New Beginning, I have one line where Frederick is protesting the lack of respect for the navy, and he says: “What has brown done for you!” from the UPS commercial. 🙂

    • HI, Abigail. I think the fact that I’m from a long line of Irish peasants and coal miners puts me on the “below stairs” team. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I definitely think the servants would all like Miss Anne and want her to be happy. Even if she didn’t go out of her way to be kind to them, just the fact she isn’t obnoxious like the rest of her family makes her a peach.

    Thanks, Mary!

    • For a servant, just being noticed must have been huge! I agree that it must have been nice to have Anne around and not just the whining Mary and stuck-up Elizabeth.

  9. You’ve pegged the characters perfectly! The servants would notice the true nature of the family. I do wonder why Anne’s mother married Sir Walter in the first place – such a vain man! And I wonder if Lady Russell ever regretted her advice to Anne, ever really knew how sad Anne was during those eight long years…

    • I’ve wondered about the marriage myself. Why would a woman as sensible as Lady Elliot marry such a vain man. Maybe she was blinded by a pretty boy. I keep thinking that if Austen had more time to work on Persuasion, she would have answered a lot of these questions.

  10. I always love it when the servants viewpoint is added. They may have been “invisible” to Sir Walter and Elizabeth, but they were surely not to Anne. I had to laugh at your “coming from a long line of Irish peasants” comment. I wouldn’t have even been present because I’m American Indian…LOL We were busy getting abused on THIS side of the pond. O:-)

    I’ve always wondered (like June) if Lady Russell ever wished she had just let Anne go and have a shot at happiness. Probably not though. Better to be safe and unhappy in the bosom of your family than running pell mell around the world with a sailor of no distinction or fortune!!

    • I know what you mean. When my first relations came to America, “Irish need not apply” signs were everywhere. Of course, they didn’t know how to read! I think Lady Russell was just enamored of being the wife of a knight and having a baronet as a friend. She had tunnel vision.

  11. Delightful and well done perspective! Yes, the servants always knew more of what was going on than the ‘upperstairs’ did themselves! Vanity thy name is Sir Walter! Thank you!

  12. The servants seem to have got the characters of Sir Walter, Elizabeth and Anne down to a T. It’s always seemed to me that the gentry/aristocracy appear to treat servants a bit like part of the furniture or, even worse, as wallpaper at times. However, I also reckon that the good servants would always listen to and see what was going on but not gossip about it, except among themselves, whereas those who passed on what they’d learned to other households might not last very long if it got back to their masters.

    I expect Anne was a lot kinder and more considerate to them than any other members of the family, which is why they like her so much. Mary was probably a bit of a nightmare before she married as she’s so conscious of her status.

    I’d more than likely have been one of the servants 200 years ago, as I’m from definitely blue collar stock. Dad left school at 14 to become an engineering apprentice but eventually rose to management and Mum worked for a firm of tailors until I came along. Probably middle class now as hubby and I were the first members of our families to go to University, now have four University degrees between us and son is about to graduate from Uni. How times change!

    • Anji, I agree. We have come so far. My father’s grandfather was killed in the mines. His father was a mule driver, and my dad graduated magna cum laude from the University of Scranton. And I became a published author! Who could have imagined such things.

  13. I like to read the servants’ opinion on what is going on in the house as they get to freely talk about just about anyone. Privately of course unless they want the butler, housekeeper and cook hear them talking about the people upstairs disparagingly.

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