Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 16

Synopsis of Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 16

Anne hopes that her father is not in love with Mrs. Clay, even more than she hopes that Mr. Elliot is in love with Elizabeth. She is dismayed when Sir Walter persuades Mrs. Clay to stay on, but allows that, if Elizabeth were also to marry, she knows she herself would be welcome to live with Lady Russell. Lady Russell is impressed with Mr. Elliot's manners, but Anne, whilst enjoying his company, still wonders about the real explanation for his change of attitude to them.

The arrival of the Elliots' aristocratic cousins the Dalrymples highlights that Mr. Elliot pays more attention to rank than Anne does. Her father and sister are also eager to make a connection with them, having in the past offended them by omitting to send condolences after the Viscount's death. Sir Walter writes an explanatory letter and makes a visit to the Dowager and her daughter. Anne is ashamed at the servility of her father and sister, especially since the Dalrymples do not have the character and accomplishments that their rank suggests.

Anne and Mr. Elliot debate the definition of good company, and whether it is worth maintaining a connection with the Dalrymples. Anne's pride prevents her from making too much of the relationship. However Mr. Elliot's pride encourages the connection in order to distract Sir Walter's attention from Mrs. Clay. Anne decides that this end does justify his means.

Commentary on Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 16

Gowland: Gowland's Lotion. A widely used beauty cream that was purported to cure all kinds of skin ailments, including freckles and other blemishes.

he began to compliment her on her improved looks This attention to Anne from her father is unprecedented, and accentuates his fixation with surface appearance rather than concern for the person behind them.

as a person in Bath … has time to be vexed Jane Austen's wry way of saying that Lady Russell's concern for Anne is somewhat dulled by her pursuit of pleasure.

the crape around his hat Crepe fabric was commonly used for mourning clothes, in this case, a black band around the hat.

she saw nobody equal to him This could be a comment on how few interesting people  Anne is meeting in Bath, or it could indicate that Anne can appreciate his company while overlooking her own doubts about him.

she remembered the other person's looks also Captain Wentworth, of course. An appreciation for Mr. Elliot always seems to bring the Captain to mind, and the Captain always compares more favourably.

Dowager A widow whose wealth or title comes from her deceased husband.

Viscount A nobleman whose rank lies above a baron but below an earl, which means the Dowager outranks Sir Walter.

Ireland It is possible that Jane Austen made the Dalrymples Irish as Irish aristocracy generally was ranked lower than British, thus making Sir Walter's fawning look even more ridiculous.

three lines of scrawl The carelessness of the writing indicates their lack of interest in the Elliots.

place A pun on the grandeur of Laura-Place, and the high rank of the Dalrymples.

Investigating Volume 2, Chapter 4 / 16
  • Note down the references to place in this chapter.
    • What is the correlation between societal place and geographical location?
  • What kind of impression do we get of the aristocracy from the description of the Dowager and her daughter? (Notice that Jane Austen seems not to condemn the nobility altogether, but suggests that merit is an important factor in assessing whether an aristocrat is worthy of their title.)
  • Pride is often ridiculed by Jane Austen. How does Anne excuse her pride and differentiate it from Mr. Elliot's?
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