Volume 1, Chapter 4

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 4

The narrator informs us that over seven years prior to the opening of the book, when she was just nineteen, Anne fell in love - not with Mr. Wentworth the curate, but with Captain Wentworth, his brother. However, Sir Walter was opposed to the match on the grounds that the Captain was not their social equal, and had no prospects of becoming so.

Lady Russell shared Sir Walter's objections and added her own dislike and mistrust of Captain Wentworth's confident, charismatic character. Unable to resist the influence of Lady Russell's opinion, Anne withdrew her acceptance, and Captain Wentworth headed to the East Indies.

Anne's heartbreak weighs heavily upon her, and there are few distractions from it to help her recover. A few years later, she receives an offer of marriage from Charles Musgrove, and when she turns him down, he marries her sister Mary instead. In the intervening years, Captain Wentworth does in fact, make his fortune and advances in rank. Now that he is home again there is a possibility that Anne will cross paths with him when he visits his sister, Mrs. Croft.

Anne ponders her decision to follow Lady Russell's advice, and how that has negatively affected her happiness and changed her. She determines that due to the silence of the few who were aware of her attachment, she can endure any necessary interactions with the Crofts.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 4

The action off St. Domingo The Battle of San Domingo in which the Royal Navy defeated the French fleet on February 8, 1806.

gave it all the negative of great astonishment, great coldness, great silence, and a professed resolution of doing nothing for his daughter Sir Walter expresses his disapproval passive-aggressively, suggesting he is either too cowardly or too uncaring to state his objections directly.

nothing but himself to recommend him As seen from Lady Russell's point of view, this means that she finds him over-confident and arrogant. An underlying meaning is that, while he lacks the desirable outward attributes (like money and status), the discerning person can see that the content of his character is commendable enough by itself.

connexions An archaic spelling of the word connections.

wearing, anxious, youth-killing This is the effect Lady Russell fears Anne will experience if she marries Captain Wentworth, but ironically, it is what Anne suffers because she does not marry him.

full of life and ardour … confidence … bewitching in the wit … sanguine … fearlessness This description of the Captain contrasts with - and highlights - Anne's quiet, faded appearance.

She deprecated the connexion in every light This opinion, coupled with Lady Russell's determination and influence, is the death-knell for Anne's engagement.

She was persuaded to believe the engagement a wrong thing This is the key instance of persuasion in the novel. Persuasion is an important theme that will be presented repeatedly in different lights.

The belief of being prudent, and self-denying principally for his advantage, was her chief consolation Here Anne uses self-persuasion to her advantage to get her through giving up Captain Wentworth.

an early loss of bloom This is the second reference to Anne's loss of ‘bloom', and reveals the cause of its loss. ‘Bloom' referred to the height of a woman's youthful beauty.

except in one visit to Bath soon after the rupture Lady Russell has already noted Anne's dislike of Bath, and this is one of the reasons for it.

To change her name To marry, and thus have a new surname.

Lady Russell might yet have asked for something more, while Anne was nineteen The older an unmarried woman got, the lower the expectations for a good match. So, even just a few years later, Lady Russell is willing to accept less in a potential suitor for Anne.

peculiarly fitted by her warm affections and domestic habits Lady Russell has a very traditional view of what makes a good wife.

she had been made to think Here, persuasion has a hint of force about it.

He had distinguished himself … have made a handsome fortune Wentworth's successes demonstrated his courage and skill, as well as bringing financial reward. A captain in the Royal Navy was entitled to two eighths of the money gained from selling a captured enemy ship and its contents.

navy lists A Navy list is a published, official list of naval officers and the ships which they command.

over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence In Jane Austen's day, people generally believed and trusted that their path through life was directed by God's hand for their good, otherwise known as ‘providence'. In her relationship with Captain Wentworth, Anne has replaced such trust with over-thinking, and she sees it has not worked out well for her.

she learned romance as she grew older – the natural sequence of an unnatural beginning Romance comes naturally to the young, and they are naturally inclined to follow their hearts. That Anne did not is unnatural. Since feeling the ill-effects of her choice, she is more optimistic about the outcome of following her heart.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 4
  • Through Jane Austen's use of free indirect speech, Chapter 4 expresses several different viewpoints on the liaison between Anne and Captain Wentworth. Identify those sections of the text which convey the viewpoint of Lady Russell and make brief notes.
    • Note how the viewpoint moves back and forth.
  •  Identify those sections of the text which convey the viewpoint of Captain Wentworth and make brief notes.
    • Note how the viewpoint moves back and forth.
  •  Identify those sections of the text which convey the viewpoint of Anne and make brief notes.
    • Note how the viewpoint moves back and forth.
  •  Identify those sections of the text which convey the viewpoint of the narrator and make brief notes.
    • Note how the viewpoint moves back and forth.
  •  Identify those sections of the text which convey the viewpoint of Jane Austen herself and make brief notes.
    • Note how the viewpoint moves back and forth.
  • Each viewpoint has characteristics particular to the person who is expressing it.
    • Identify these for each character in this chapter
    • Add to the list as you continue to read.
  • Lady Russell presents the conventional opinion that Anne's good looks, ancestry and intelligence are a valuable contribution for a woman to bring to a marriage. Why does she think Captain Wentworth has nothing of value to contribute?
  • Captain Wentworth is described as an engaging, passionate and confident person. How does he differ from Jane Austen's heroes in previous novels?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.