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by Jane Austen

Persuasion Chapter 11 Summary

  • Lady Russell is due to return, and Anne wonders if she will see more or less of Wentworth once she leaves Uppercross for Kellynch Lodge.
  • Captain Wentworth disappears for a few days; when he comes back, he explains that he was visiting his friend Captain Harville, who is currently nursing an old wound at the nearby seaside resort Lyme Regis.
  • His description of the town and his friend gets everyone so excited, there’s only one solution: road trip!
  • They arrive in the November evening at the picturesque village, and our narrator waxes poetic about its loveliness.
  • Captain Wentworth introduces everyone not only to Captain Harville, but also to Captain Benwick, who had sailed on the Laconia with Harville and Wentworth.
  • Benwick was engaged to Harville’s sister Fanny, but she died before they could get married, and Benwick has been depressed ever since.
  • Anne thinks that Benwick is a bit of a poser, since her heart’s just as broken as his and she’s not nearly so mopey; also, as a man, Benwick has far more opportunities to go find someone else or do something else than stuck-at-home Anne has had.
  • We get a careful class ranking of the characters: Captain Harville is "a perfect gentleman," though "not equaling Captain Wentworth in manners" (does this mean Wentworth is more than perfect?), and Mrs. Harville is a step down the ladder in "polish" (11.15)
  • While the Harvilles may not have polish, or, as it soon becomes apparent, much wealth, they do have genuine kindness and hospitality in spades, and Anne gets a little depressed thinking that, through not marrying Wentworth, she also missed out on his network of friends.
  • Though the Harville lodgings are small, the Captain has tricked them out to make the most of the space, and Anne is impressed by his creativity and constant activity.
  • The Musgroves & Co. head back to their hotel for dinner.
  • After dinner, Captains Harville and Benwick come for another visit, and Anne ends up talking to the still Eeyore-ish Benwick.
  • Their chatting focuses mostly on his favorite, mostly depressing poetry (modern conversational equivalent: do you think Bright Eyes or Death Cab for Cutie is better?), and Anne suggests that Benwick might be cheerier if he read some inspirational, character-building prose once in a while (or listened to some stadium rock?), though privately she thinks that she hasn’t been all that good at taking her own advice.

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