Persuasion
Jane Austen
Contributed by Tereasa Jacob

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Chapter 11-12
Summary

Chapter 11

Anne plans to end her visit with Mary to go and stay with Lady Russell for a short period of time. She thinks that doing this may allow her to see Captain Wentworth more often, as Lady Russell’s home is closer to Kellynch. However, after not being seen at Uppercross for two days, the Captain returns to Uppercross. He has been to Lyme, to visit friends, Captain and Mrs. Harville. Captain Wentworth tells the Musgroves all about Lyme, and they decide that they would love to go there. Plans are made for Charles, Anne, Mary, Louisa, Henrietta, and Captain Wentworth to visit Lyme. They go the very next day and are delighted by the seaside town of Lyme.

We are introduced to three new characters: Captain and Mrs. Harville and Captain Benwick. Captain Harville and his wife are friends of Captain Wentworth, and Captain Benwick is living with them. The Harvilles are kind and hospitable people with very good manners. While they live in very small quarters, they have come up with ways of making the most efficient use of their space. Anne thinks that it seems a very happy home. Captain Benwick is thought to be “an excellent young man and an officer.” He fell into a deep depression after the death of Fanny Harville, his fiancée and Captain Harville’s sister. Benwick is a poetry enthusiast, turning to the art for solace in his sadness. When visiting the Harvilles, Anne tries to make conversation with the young man. While he is quite reserved initially, Benwick eventually opens up and they talk about poetry. Anne says that he should consider including more prose in his reading. She feels that she has done Captain Benwick a kindness in helping him open up.

Chapter 12

The following morning, the group enjoys an early morning walk on the seashore before breakfast. As they are walking up some steps, a gentleman who stops to allow them to pass looks admiringly at Anne. He seems to find her very attractive, and Captain Wentworth notices this. He turns to look at her and admires her, as well.

Everyone returns to the Inn for breakfast. They discover that the gentleman who seemed to admire Anne is a fellow guest at the hotel. They ask about his name and are told he is called Mr. Elliot and that he is a gentleman with a large fortune. Mary assumes that this Mr. Elliot must be the heir of Kellynch and their cousin! She regrets that they didn’t have the chance to be introduced to him before he left, but Anne points out that this introduction might be improper as Sir Walter and Mr. Elliot are not currently on good terms. The party then decides to set out on another walk, and Captain Benwick and the Harvilles come along with them. Captain Benwick walks with Anne, and Captain Harville says he’s glad that Anne has been able to bring Benwick out of his shell a bit. The party eventually comes to a set of stairs. Louisa insists that she jump down to be caught by Captain Wentworth. She is safe the first time she does it, but later she jumps too soon and the Captain is not able to catch her. She lands on a wall and is unconscious from the fall. Henrietta and Mary are hysterical but Anne manages to stay calm and directs Captain Benwick to quickly fetch a doctor. She says that Captain Wentworth must carry her to the Inn, but the Harvilles insists that the young lady be brought to their own home. After Louisa is brought to the Harvilles’ house, the doctor arrives to examine her.

After the examination, the doctor declares that Louisa has a severe head injury but that she will live. There is likely to be a long recovery, and the Harvilles say that Louisa may stay as long as she needs to. It is initially decided that Captain Wentworth, Mary, and Henrietta should go back to Uppercross to break the news to Louisa’s parents. Captain Wentworth believes that Anne is the one most capable of looking after Louisa. However, Mary objects to the plan and refuses to leave Louisa. She therefore remains in Lyme and Anne is sent back with Captain Wentworth in the carriage. Mrs. Harville has nursing experience, and she can help with Louisa.

As Anne and Captain Wentworth travel to Uppercross, the Captain expresses the fact that he feels guilty about Louisa’s fall. He asks Anne for her opinion on how they should break the news to the Musgroves. Anne feels grateful for his evident appreciation of her input. The Captain informs the Musgroves of Louisa’s accident and goes back to Lyme as quickly as possible.

Analysis

Chapter 12 encapsulates a climax in the narrative of the novel. Persuasion’s story is a linear narrative, with its events organized chronologically. The novel was originally released in two volumes, with the first volume ending at the end of Chapter 12. Louisa’s accident is the most dramatic event to occur so far. By including the accident in this section, the author encourages readers to read the second volume of the novel. These chapters show the negative things that can happen when people are too stubborn. Louisa will not allow herself to be persuaded to not jump off the wall. It is in this way that her firmness of mind actually works to her detriment. Captain Wentworth feels very guilty about what happened, and he is forced to reconsider what he has always thought about the benefits of a “strong character.”

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