Volume 1, Chapter 11

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 11

Anne anticipates joining Lady Russell upon her imminent return to Kellynch. She weighs the pros and cons of how it will affect her proximity to Captain Wentworth, and worries about Lady Russell running into Captain Lyme RegisWentworth. Captain Wentworth receives a letter from his friend Captain Harville, who is now living in Lyme. Captain Wentworth's enthusiasm for visiting him and seeing Lyme and its environs is contagious, and all the young people decide to accompany him on an overnight visit there. They arrive in the late afternoon and walk down to the sea. They are soon joined by Captain Harville, his wife, and Captain Benwick, who lives with them. We learn that Captain Benwick is deep in mourning for the death of his fiancée (Captain Harville's sister), who died the previous year. They visit the Harvilles' home and Anne notices that their warm hospitality and cosy decorating more than compensate for the lack of space.

During the evening, Anne finds herself across the room from the others conversing with Captain Benwick. Discovering that he has immersed himself in poetry, she advises him that his grieving heart might be served better by turning his attention to moral and religious prose. The irony that she should be the one to give him such advice is not lost on her.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 11

they would have to frequent the same church Given that church attendance was a common and regular habit in Jane Austen's day, it was likely that they might see each other in church at least once a week.

diversified Modified.

relation Telling.

Lyme Lyme Regis, a town on the Dorset coast, which Jane Austen had visited several times.

His acquittal was complete His duty had been performed.

coach A large, covered, four-wheeled carriage.

curricle A small, open carriage drawn by two horses.

The Cobb, photo by Joadl, available through Creative Commonsthe Cobb The harbour at Lyme Regis which is protected by a substantial stone wall, wide enough to walk along.

Charmouth with its high grounds … dark cliffs … green chasms … luxuriant growth The descriptive language in this passage has elements of the Romantic. The language is reminiscent of writers such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Anne Radcliffe. It is unusual for Jane Austen, and is perhaps the result of her own fondness for Lyme Regis after visiting it herself. It also demonstrates the effect of natural beauty on the human psyche.

first lieutenant The officer on a warship who is responsible for its upkeep.

netting-needles Needles for mending and patching fishing nets.

Marmion An epic poem by Sir Walter Scott (1808).

The Lady of the Lake A narrative poem by Sir Walter Scott (1810).

the Giaour and The Bride of Abydos Two of Lord Byron's poems written in 1813.

our best moralists Two of Jane Austen's own favourite moralists were Samuel Johnson and Thomas Sherlock (a sermon-writer). Anne's prescription of such moralists to temper Captain Benwick's emotionalism reflects her own beliefs that extreme emotions can be brought back into balance by the application of reason.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 11
  • What motivates Louisa to push for the group's visit to Lyme?
  • How do Jane Austen's depictions of the Harvilles and Captain Benwick shape our impression of the navy?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.