Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The perfect love letter: Wentworth to Anne in 'Persuasion'

I decided that after looking at the epic love that is Catherine and Heathcliff from 'Wuthering Heights', it was time to take a look at another one of my favourite lovers, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen's 'Persuasion', especially now that it's Austen August over at Roof Beam Reader. Here below I have the letter that Wentworth writes to Anne. This letter may be the most romantic thing you read today , so please be prepared.
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 for ever. 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, could 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 justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in 
F. W. 
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.  
First, let's put this into the context of the novel. Anne and Wentworth have met again through family and she has found out he won't marry Louisa Musgrove and he has found out she won't marry Sir Elliot. Although still uncertain on whether she loves him as well, all of Wentworth's scorned feelings have come back full force and he decides to make himself known to her once more in the most romantic letter Jane Austen has ever put down on paper.

All swooning aside, Jane Austen here shows she perfectly understands how romantic love works for women, who would have been Austen's main audience. 'You pierce my soul' is a very simply, small sentence that immediately sets the tone for the letter. The sentence goes back to the ideals of courtly love in which love would be both a sickness and a cure. Love, especially unrequited, hurts very deeply, yet the only cure for it is that very same love, only requited. Wentworth shows Anne he has suffered for her and that she still awakens these kind of feelings

I always felt Jane Austen treated men very fairly. Her male characters are just as emotional as women, which I think is a good thing. Often men in novels are simply strong or simply in love, end of that. Yet Wentworth, as an example, is completely aware of his emotions and feels them just as strongly as Anne. He argues, fights for his love. First he assures her of his love, not only referring to himself but to all men and the strength of their affection, something often doubted in literature since it's usually the women pining after the men, not the other way round.

Another lovely touch is Wentworth almost arguing with himself. First he says he couldn't read her emotions and therefore waited and then he says no one knows her like he does. He can read her sighs, her looks and he wants her to know he is completely at her disposal. He again places himself in her power, again she could break his heart. The bravery in this is what makes this letter so passionate and beautiful. It is full speed ahead, fully aware of the possible negative consequences, yet also despite them. The possibility of her loving him would be worth the fear now.

Captain Wentworth's Letter - Persuasion Literary Quote Brass Cuff Bracelet- Jane Austen JewelryI simply love this letter. It is heart-breaking even though it is also uplifting and hopeful. I get a rush of emotions from it that I usually don't get. A lot of romance has become very predictable. 'I can't live without you', 'you are my soulmate', 'I'll die', etc. etc. This love is so much deeper in its context as in its language. These two know they can live and exist without each other and they have passed the stage of teenage love declarations. Loving each other is their wish, that one thing that would make their life the best it could ever be.

Over at Etsy they have put part of this letter onto a cuff bracelet that I am going to buy as soon as I have money. I mean, have you read this letter? It would just make me smile reading it every single day, no matter what the weather etcetera. I would be such a happy, fulfilled person. I am waxing lyrical here.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, this letter is of my favourite love declarations I've ever read. I completely agree with your analysis. Great post!

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  2. This is wonderful. I remember reaching that part in the book and just starting to grin like an idiot. Great observation about Austen's male characters.

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