Persuasion by Jane Austen
Silence and Signals
Direct communication is impossible due to social rules and proprieties. The prose style becomes chaotic and troubled as it is reflects a tormented mind filled with repetitions ("Eight years, almost eight years had passed"), urgent rhetorical questions ("What might eight years not do?"), exclamations ("how natural, how certain too!"), and interjections ("Alas! With all her reasonings she found that to retentive feelings eight years may be little more than nothing"). So Anne's consciousness permeates the presentation of their meeting and pinpoints the difficulties of polite society, the veil behind all must act, he signals and performs enough to mark an "easy footing". We see then the importance of physiognomy, gesture, countenance and looks in the interpretation of character and thoughts. The mention of Captain Wentworth by Mrs Croft in Chapter VI produces a wish to control her countenance, which signifies her feelings in the physical manifestation of colouring:
"Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion she certainly had not"
From the start of Wentworth's return into her social world, their relationship is governed by faulty or indirect communication in the form of overheard or heard second hand. Mary tells Anne Captain Wentworth's observance to somebody else that Anne was so altered, that he should not of known her again. This communication was not supposed to be related to her and erects another obstacle between them and the resolution of their love. Whilst this revelation shatters her it also erases her hope: a conviction in which she stoically rejoices. Her time then is spent agonizing between the emotional and passionate self and the composed sober self, hope and circumspection.
The reader is privileged with an insight into his mind and we see that he is still hurt but ultimately still feels the same towards her as he did eight years ago, and the potential of the renewal of his love:
"He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill, deserted and...