Jane Austen
Contributed by Tereasa Jacob
Chapter 5-6

Chapter 5

Admiral Croft and his wife come to view Kellynch. They like the house as well as the furniture and grounds, and they get along well with Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Sir Walter approves of their good manners and polished behavior, and he thinks that the Admiral is among the “best-looking sailors he has ever met.” It is formally agreed that the Admiral and Mrs. Croft will rent Kellynch. Sir Walter and Elizabeth will bring Mrs. Clay to Bath with them, to be a companion and assistant for Elizabeth. Lady Russell feels that this is imprudent, and so does Anne. Mrs. Clay is reasonably attractive, despite her projecting tooth and freckles, and they are afraid that Sir Walter will become too close to her as such a match would be highly unsuitable. Anne tries to warn Elizbeth about what may happen by hinting at the impropriety of letting Mrs. Clay come along with them to Bath. Elizabeth dismisses Anne’s comments, fully confident that Sir Walter would never be interested in marrying Mrs. Clay.

Mary claims that she is ill and needs Anne to come and stay with her at Uppercross Cottage for a few weeks instead of immediately going to Bath with Elizbeth and Sir Walter. Anne happily agrees, pleased with the idea of remaining in Somersetshire longer. When she arrives at Uppercross Cottage, Anne finds Mary to be in a bad mood, lounging on a couch and complaining about the fact that she has been alone all morning as Charles it out shooting. Mary’s two small sons are difficult to manage. We learn that Mary was never as pretty as Anne or Elizabeth, and that she has a difficult and self-pitying nature. She is always looking for attention. Anne is eventually able to improve her sister’s mood so that she will get up off the sofa and accompany Anne to the Great House to see the Musgroves.

The reader is introduced to the Musgroves at the Great House. They are clearly a happy family, and “friendly and hospitable, not much educated and not at all elegant.” We meet Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove and their three adult children: Charles (Mary’s husband), Louisa, and Henrietta. Louisa and Henrietta have just come home from their school at Exeter. There are younger children too, but we do not learn their names. Anne likes being at the Musgrove’s house, appreciating the comfort and happiness its company affords. She encourages Mary and both Miss Musgroves (Louisa and Henrietta) to come with her for a walk.

Chapter 6

During her stay at Uppercross, Anne notices that the topics discussed by the family there are very different from those she is used to from Sir Walter and Elizabeth. The Musgroves mostly occupy themselves with talking of newspapers, hunting, dancing, dress, and music, and very seldom or never discuss issues of social standing or appearance. Anne appreciates the change and enjoys being in this kind of company.

It appears that Charles and Mary Musgrove’s marriage is moderately happy. Mary has her moods but Charles is sufficiently good-natured to put up with them. He does spend a great deal of time on sport, however. Charles is better at managing the children than Mary. It is the latter’s approach that makes them difficult to deal with. Anne finds it easy to get along with the entire family, and she receives much more respect from the two boys than their mother does.

The Musgroves are happy to have Anne with them. Mary is pleased to have a constant companion, and Charles and his parents try to get Anne to influence her sister to be more reasonable. They wish that Mary would be a more effective manager of her home and children. Anne finds herself a constant middle party in dealing with minor complaints.

While Anne enjoys being at Uppercross, she is sad about the fact that people other than her family are living at Kellynch. Anne and Mary soon go to Kellynch to visit the Crofts. It is clear that the Crofts are kind and friendly people. Mrs. Croft has spent a lot of time at sea with her husband, and she has a rather weather-beaten complexion because of this. In conversation, Mrs. Croft says that Mr. Wentworth, her brother, is married. Anne feels momentarily dejected and worried that it could be Captain Wentworth that she means. It turns out, however, that it is not. Captain Wentworth will soon visit Kellynch. Anne is excited by this news.

When Mrs. Musgrove hears the name Captain Wentworth, she recollects that she has heard the name before. She says that when her son Dick was in the Navy, he served under Captain Wentworth. Dick wrote fondly about the Captain. It seems that Dick was a “troublesome, hopeless” son. It was because he was so difficult and unmanageable that he was sent to sea when he was twenty years old. While there had never been a very strong attachment between him and his family, his death saddened his mother greatly. When she hears Captain Wentworth’s name, the memory of her son is brought to mind and she feels grief once again.


Austen’s exploration of the complexities of the English class system continues here. More observations about class divisions is facilitated by comparison of the Elliot and Musgrove families. While it’s true that the Musgroves are a landowning and wealthy family, and are inferior only to the Elliots in the parish, they lack a title and the high family connections that the Elliots have. There are clear differences in their ways of life, even though they do interact and intermarry. Daily activities, sport, and dress are the main kinds of topics that the Musgroves focus on, while Sir Walter and Elizbeth talk a great deal more about social status and appearances. Anne finds this difference to be quite refreshing but a little bit disconcerting, as well. We read that the Musgroves are “not much educated and not at all elegant.” While Anne loves spending time with the Musgroves, she would not want to emulate them. She has better taste and yearns for greater elegance and informed minds. While it’s true that Sir Walter and Elizbeth are educated and elegant, they are closed-minded, and this is something that Anne dislikes.

These chapters also address women’s social position within England’s class system. Women’s social position was very tenuous in Regency England. It is true, however, that in some circumstances, women could rise or fall significantly depending on who she married. While a woman could improve her rank through marriage, a man could only improve his fortune, not his rank. This was why it was considered so important for women to be careful in choosing their marriage partner. A young woman’s family and friends would usually hope to guide her in choosing the best possible suitor.

The theme of women’s potential social mobility is evident in the “dangerous” possibility of a match between Sir Walter and Mrs. Clay. Anne believes that bringing Mrs. Clay to Bath is foolish and imprudent, and she thinks that it is her duty to tell Elizabeth of the potential danger. There are two reasons why such a marriage would be considered objectionable. Firstly, such a marriage would be a way of giving a woman of obscure birth “undue distinction.” While Anne would never overtly say this, her views are not sufficiently liberal to make her feel comfortable with such a situation. Secondly, Mrs. Clay marrying Sir Walter would make her Lady Elliot, and this would mean that she would have precedence over Anne and Elizabeth in social situations. When we read about the specific “danger” that Anne mentions to Elizabeth, we are to understand that Elizabeth would no longer be the lady of the house at Kellynch.

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