Volume 1, Chapter 12

Synopsis of Volume 1, Chapter 12

While Anne and Henrietta are taking an early morning walk, Henrietta argues the advantages of Mr. Shirley moving out of the parish and engaging a resident curate to cover for him. She is clearly thinking of Charles Hayter. They are soon joined by Captain Wentworth and Louisa. As they all walk into town, they encounter a gentleman who directs glances of admiration toward Anne. She bumps into him again in the hotel hallway, and is once more struck by his interest in her. She soon discovers that he is an Elliot and the heir to Kellynch. Anne recalls that there was a breach in his relationship with her father and surmises that Elizabeth had something to do with it.

Louisa after her fallThey delay their return home a little for a final walk along the Cobb. Louisa insists on jumping from the Cobb into Captain Wentworth's arms, but mistimes the second jump. He fails to catch Louisa, and she falls to the ground, rendered unconscious. Mary and Henrietta are thrown into a panic, while Anne takes charge. Captain Benwick goes for a doctor, while Captain Wentworth carries Louisa to the Harvilles' house.

The doctor diagnoses Louisa with a severe head injury. It is decided she should recover at the Harvilles. Anne is the obvious choice for her nursemaid, but Mary argues her way into staying instead, along with Charles, Captain Benwick and Mrs. Harville. Captain Wentworth accompanies Henrietta and Anne to Uppercross, then returns to Lyme right away.

Commentary on Volume 1, Chapter 12

last spring twelvemonth A year ago last spring.

a dispensation An exemption (from the ecclesiastical law that a vicar must live in the parish in which he serves).

the bloom and freshness of youth restored Anne's restored appearance could signify that it is doing her good to be in the company of the Harvilles and the Musgroves, who have more regard for her than her own family.

Sidmouth A seaside resort to the west of Lyme Regis.

arms Coat of arms. An arrangement of symbols as seen on shields, banners etc., particular to a certain family. Usually passed down from father to son.

the greatcoat was hanging over the panel The wooden panel bearing the family's coat of arms is obscured by the coat hanging over it.

livery Attire worn by servants to denote for which family they work.

Mr. Scott and Lord Byron Sir Walter Scott and Byron: the authors of the poems referred to in the previous chapter.

run up to the yard-arm Hung from the yardarm, the horizontal spar which holds the square sails. This was normally a punishment for mutineers or prisoners.

Lord ByronLord Byron's ‘dark blue seas' A reference from Lord Byron's narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812).

perforce By force of circumstance.

salts Smelling salts. A compound of ammonium carbonate commonly used to arouse someone after fainting or loss of consciousness.

surgeon Doctor

Captain Wentworth's eyes were also turned to her All eyes are now on Anne. She has moved from the periphery to the centre. This is the moment where she exhibits collectedness in the face of crisis and takes the initiative to direct those around her as to how best they can help Louisa.

nor the sight of him afterwards … overpowered by the various feelings of his soul, and trying by prayer and reflection to calm them Captain Wentworth's sense of helplessness puts him in a very vulnerable position that makes a powerful impression on Anne. 

wrapt up Wrapped up, absorbed.

an Emma towards her Henry A reference to the poem Henry and Emma (1709), written by Matthew Prior.

Investigating Volume 1, Chapter 12
  • Note down the various reactions of the women in the group to Louisa's fall.
    • What does each individual's response reveal about her character?
  • Captains Wentworth, Benwick and Harville all prove useful in aiding Louisa. What does this suggest about the capability of naval men?
  • Notice how Louisa's insistence and determination play a major role in her accident, and it is Anne's resoluteness of character that saves the day. What do you think Jane Austen is saying about these two manifestations of strength of mind?
  • What is the effect of placing a dramatic event like Louisa's fall at the conclusion of the first volume of Persuasion?
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