Volume 1, Chapter 2

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 2

Mr. Shepherd passes the task of advising Sir Walter on his finances to Lady Russell, who consults Anne. Anne's proposed adjustments to Sir Walter's expenditures are far more severe than Lady Russell's. Anne's priority is freedom from debt rather than sparing Sir Walter the discomforts and humility of cutting back. Lady Russell's plan is, however, proposed and even so, rejected as untenable. Mr. Shepherd convinces Sir Walter that moving out of Kellynch Hall altogether and letting it is a better plan. Contrary to Anne's wishes, it is agreed that they shall move to Bath. The primary reason why Lady Russell approves of the move is that it will remove Elizabeth from the society of Mr. Shepherd's daughter Mrs. Clay, whom Lady Russell considers an inferior companion and bad influence. 

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 2

She had prejudices on the side of ancestry … which blinded her a little to the faults of those who possessed them Lady Russell's blindness to character flaws where good breeding is present is highlighted by its contrast to the preceding long list of her fine attributes.

consequence social status

only a knight Lady Russell's esteem of Sir Walter's position as a Baronet is increased by her awareness that her late husband's rank was inferior to Sir Walter's.

she did, what nobody else thought of doing: she consulted Anne Lady Russell is shown here to be wiser than others in valuing Anne's opinion.

honesty against importance Anne's cut-backs, while severe, are a more honest reflection of the degree of Sir Walter's financial difficulty. Lady Russell's plan is less severe due to her greater concern for maintaining society's sense of the family's importance.

first families Families with high social status in the area due to rank, descent and long residence in one place.

the usual fate of Anne attended her, in having something very opposite from her inclination fixed on The narrator continues to establish Anne as overlooked, unappreciated and even deliberately thwarted.

Her spirits were not high By concluding both this and the previous paragraph with the idea of Anne's low spirits, the narrator hints that something has happened to induce this condition.

burthen An archaic word for ‘burden', with nautical connotations.

complaisance Being agreeable or compliant.

Elizabeth would go her own way Elizabeth is headstrong and all of Lady Russell's efforts to steer her in the right direction are ignored.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 2

  • There are a variety of references to the themes of persuasion and influence in this chapter.
    • Who is influenced by whom
    • How do these themes go hand-in-hand?
  • Alongside Lady Russell's concern for the delicate balance of Sir. Walter's social standing is her awareness of inner nobility. How does retrenchment relate to both inner and outer nobility?
  • How might Mrs. Clay be a danger to Sir Walter, as well as to Elizabeth and Anne?
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