Volume 1, Chapter 8

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 8

With the recovery of young Charles, Anne frequently sees Captain Wentworth at the gatherings at the Musgroves'. Although she has few interactions with him, some of his comments and looks lead her to believe that their engagement is on his mind. His exchanges with the Musgrove sisters about the navy Wentwort, Mrs Musgrove and Anneremind her of her own conversations with him in the early days of their relationship. During the good-natured banter between the Captain and the Admiral about the seaworthiness of the Asp, Mrs. Musgrove seizes the opportunity to mention her deceased son Dick. Despite his lack of interest in her son, Captain Wentworth kindly comforts her.

The Admiral raises the subject of having women on board ship, and Captain Wentworth fiercely opposes the idea. Mrs. Croft argues that she was always very comfortable on board and much healthier when she was together there with her husband than apart. Anne observes the Miss Hayters' growing admiration for the Captain, as well as Henrietta's and Louisa's. She sadly contemplates her own estrangement from him and his current coolness toward her.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 8

absenting herself Excusing herself and leaving.

no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved The cadence of this statement echoes that of the Book of Common Prayer: ‘unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid'.

if it had pleased Heaven If it had pleased God. To refer to God as Heaven was common in Jane Austen's day.

navy-list An officially published list of naval officers which includes their rank, the ships they command etc.

Sloop with gunsWest Indies Refers to the British West Indies, which comprised the Caribbean islands that the British had colonised.

sloop A single-masted warship with fore-and-aft rigging, which only carried guns on the upper deck.

I wanted to be doing something This is an oblique reference to Captain Wentworth's going abroad to distract him from the bitter disappointment of his broken engagement to Anne.

pelisse Woman's ankle-length cloak, usually fur-lined.

Privateers Armed ships owned privately by those authorised by their government to use them for capturing enemy vessels.

frigate Warship.

sound Narrow strait of water.

Great Nation France.

Western Islands Group of islands off the coast of New Guinea

there are unbecoming conjunctions … which ridicule will seize The combination of Mrs. Musgrove's physical size and her display of grief are deemed unattractive and a cause for humour.

East Indies Southeast Asia.

the higher rates The bigger and better ships.

the assizes Local county courts for trying the more serious criminal cases. They were held four times a year and lasted several days.

her eyes would sometimes fill with tears … she was extremely glad to be employed, and desired … to be unobserved Anne's bent toward being useful is often used as a way of distracting herself and others from her emotions

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 8
  • Anne observes that the Crofts are a ‘particularly attached and happy couple'. How is this impression reinforced as the chapter progresses?
  • What is the explanation for Captain Wentworth's inconsistency in looks and words on the subject of Dick Musgrove?
    • How does Jane Austen flesh out Mrs. Croft as a woman of mental and physical fortitude during this chapter?
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