Friday, January 13, 2006
You Pierce My Soul
(PLEASE NOTE: SPOILERS BELOW; IF YOU HAVE NOT READ AUSTEN'S PERSUASION AND WANT TO, PLEASE BEWARE)
To the question "What is your favorite book?," the answer is simple: Jane Austen's PERSUASION. The book tells the love story between Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth.
Anne, as a young woman, was in love with Frederick Wentworth, a young and inexperienced naval officer. After much urging and convincing by her family and, in particular, a close friend of her mother's, Anne is persuaded to break the connection with Wentworth because he is below her station and, thus, unable to support her in the manner to which she is accustomed.
Years pass. Anne is 27 and a spinster. She was never able to forget Wentworth and has lived a lonely life filled with regret. Wentworth returns after years spent away from Britain, now a Captain and a man of wealth. The old lovers meet. Wentworth is angry and bitter and, at first glance, no longer in love with Anne. Anne, still very much in love, resigns herself to a future of loneliness without Wentworth.
Wentworth is on the marriage mart and several have their eyes set on him. Anne is convinced of his impending nuptials to another woman. However, in the end, she realizes that Wentworth has never stopped loving her! Not knowing whether Anne still has feelings for him, Wentworth puts his pride on the line and expresses his love and adoration for her in a tear-jerking, awe inducing, breathtaking letter that will leave any reader weak in the knees. If you don't believe me, read this:
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, would I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us injustice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in ....F.W.
Just writing this post makes my heart long for a Wentworth of my own...oh, what a man...what a hero. I wish more authors wrote heroes like him. There are a few, but lately heroes seem to have become so...so...superficial and dull. I hope I've turned some of you on to Captain Wentworth, for he is truly delicious. PERSUASION is not as popular as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE but, in my opinion, it is by far Austen's best novel.