Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Austen Dudes: Captain Frederick Wentworth

Okay, I know I said last time that Mr. Knightly was my favorite (and he is and has been since I first read Emma years ago), but Captain Wentworth has been gradually catching up over the last few years. Whether or not he will surpass Mr. Knightly is yet to be seen, though there is a definite possibility of a tie...

Persuasion is interesting because the first bloom of love is gone, and the story is all about the rekindling after a long separation. None of the other Austen books look into this side of the story - the closest one gets is with Sense and Sensibility, I suppose, and that's not even that close. It makes sense that Persuasion deals with a more mature heroine and a less "first-love" plot - Austen wrote it later in her own life. However, it seems to me that there is the most "first-love" awkwardness on both sides in Persuasion than there is in any other of her books.

Okay, on to Wentworth.

The big word with Wentworth throughout the book is constancy. Even though Anne refuses him the first time, he still loves her, and will always love her, forever, no matter what. Luckily, it all turns out happily. But seriously, that's a pretty awesome love.

One thing I want to talk about are the "Cancelled Chapters." Austen's original ending to persuasion was different from what was ultimately published.
(If you want to read the "Cancelled Chapters" click HERE. And HERE for the published penultimate chapter.)

It is the second to last chapter that most differs. In the original version, there was no conversation with Harville about love and constancy, no hastily written letter from Wentworth in all desperation.
The original chapter is a little less romantic and a little more - cute? awkward? I'm not quite sure how to put it.

If you haven't read the link, it involves a direct conversation between Wentworth and Anne, one in which Wentworth (rather flustered) addresses Anne as the definite bride of Mr. Elliot. Anne denies this, of course (equally flustered) and an adorable reconciliation follows.

Though I agree with Austen that the new chapter has more flair and appeal than the old one, there is something rather nice about the first version. I went to see a musical of Persuasion a few years ago and they somehow managed to include in the adaptation BOTH scenes. I don't remember how they did it, but it was awesome. (By the way, I'd like to note that the show was three hours long...)

Even though I do like the "Cancelled Chapters," there are two reasons why I like the revised ending more.
Firstly, the whole letter thing is so romantic and cute.
But secondly, I really appreciate that Austen added the conversation with Harville. It really emphasizes constancy in love, an important theme throughout the books. If persuasion provided the conflict, constancy provided the resolution.

If you've read Persuasion, what did you think of Wentworth? Since this is our last Austen hero, which is your favorite?


Here are my previous posts on Austen dudes:
George Knightly from Emma
Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park
Charles Bingley from Pride and Prejudice
Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey
Edward Ferrars (and Colonel Brandon) from Sense and Sensibility
Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice


  1. I haven't read Persuasion yet. I know! I must! But I was wondering what you thought of the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root movie? I liked how he portrayed Wentworth but I found her so silent and mouse-ish. If I admit it, it was her whole performance that put me off reading this book. Please tell me Anne is not really like how Root portrayed her!

    1. To tell you the truth, it's been a good many years since I've seen that film (and I think I actually saw it before I read the book - shame on me!) so I don't really remember my opinion of the portrayal of Anne.
      Anne (book-Anne) is definitely quiet, but she's not a Fanny Price. She's actually closer to Elinor in my opinion, in that she doesn't reveal feelings easily, and is a sort of confidante for everyone. She's strong inside, and will take charge of a situation if it's needed.
      Go read the book. You'll like her. :-)

    2. Good to know. I'll try to fit it in mid-year!


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