Study Guide

Persuasion Chapter 3

By Jane Austen

Chapter 3

  • Sir Walter’s lawyer, Mr. Shepherd, proposes an admiral as an ideal tenant; England’s war with Napoleon’s France has just ended, so there are plenty of naval officers coming ashore and looking to spend their war booty.
  • Sir Walter thinks any mere rich admiral should consider himself very fortunate indeed to score Sir Walter’s own Kellynch Hall, and says so.
  • Mrs. Clay assures Sir Walter that any naval officer would take good care not only of the house but also might do a little gardening; Sir Walter, however, wants to keep his shrubberies to himself. (Perhaps he’s had a bad run-in with Monty Python's Knights Who Say Ni?)
  • Anne makes her first contribution to the conversation, speaking up for the naval profession and saying they have an equal claim to a home.
  • Sir Walter explains his double objection to naval men: first, some of them have acquired high rank through personal success (horrors!), and thus take precedent over Sir Walter himself when his daddy could beat their daddy (in social standing, at least); and second, they look all old and ugly and stuff. (Apparently no one ever told them to wear sunscreen. Also, it hadn’t been invented yet.)
  • Mrs. Clay responds that any job has its health dangers, and really one can only keep looking young and healthy if one is rich enough not to have to work.
  • All this talk of admirals is not for nothing, for soon a real life Admiral by the name of Croft gets a yen for renting Kellynch Hall.
  • Sir Walter thinks better of the idea upon learning that Admiral Croft comes from a gentlemanly family and isn’t a total scarecrow in looks.
  • Anne chimes in with more detail on the Admiral’s background and accomplishments, but Sir Walter’s more interested in his appearance.
  • Mr. Shepherd points out that Admiral Croft would make a great tenant: not only is he willing to pay high rent, he’s bringing his wife along, and everyone knows that women have Magical Cleaning Superpowers. He also notes that this particular wife is much smarter about the business arrangements than her husband.
  • Furthermore, Mrs. Croft’s brother had been a curate (a lowly church official) in the area, but no one can remember his name – except for Anne, who says he was called Wentworth.
  • Since Sir Walter makes it clear that curates matter about as much as badgers and slightly below penguins in his scheme of the world, the subject is dropped.
  • Sir Walter, with support from Elizabeth, decides that an Admiral is just the thing for a tenant, as the title sounds impressive while still remaining firmly inferior to Walter’s own Sir.
  • The chapter ends with Anne saying cryptically to herself, as she walks in the garden alone with her excited emotions, that soon "he" may be walking these same paths.