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Jane Austen

Chapters 23–24

Chapters 21–22

Chapters 23–24, page 2

page 1 of 2

Chapter 23

The next morning, Anne leaves to join the Musgroves, Captain Harville, Captain Wentworth, and Mrs. Croft for the day. They are in a parlor room, and Anne talks to Captain Harville by the window. Captain Wentworth is not far off, and is writing a letter. Anne and Captain Harville discuss the constancy of love. Anne argues that women are the more constant and faithful gender; she says that women love longest, even "when existence or when hope is gone." Captain Harville disagrees; he asserts that men remember their women long after the women have moved on. They agree to disagree. Captain Wentworth overhears the entire conversation.

Having finished his letter, Captain Wentworth slips a note to Anne, and then he and Captain Harville leave to mail the letter. Anne reads Wentworth's note. In it, he declares his constancy and his undying love for her. Anne is overcome with emotion. She exclaims that she is not feeling well and must go home at once. Though she hopes to walk alone, Charles insists on walking with her. In the street, they see Captain Wentworth, and Charles suggests that he accompany Anne the rest of the way home.

Finally alone, Anne tells Captain Wentworth how much she has loved him for this long time. Though people walk the streets around them, they are only conscious of each other. They are 'exquisitely happy' and relieved. Captain Wentworth asserts that he has never loved anyone but Anne. Although he flirted with Louisa, he never meant to be engaged to her. When he found out that others thought him promised to her, he was distraught. He could not have been more pleased when, upon getting better, she chose to marry Captain Benwick.

Captain Wentworth tells Anne how horrible it was to be at the concert, knowing that everyone who had influence over her must persuade her to marry Mr. Elliot. Anne explains that eight years ago, she yielded to duty, but that in "marrying a man indifferent to [her],…all duty would be violated." They part for the afternoon, each overwhelmingly happy.

That night, at the Elliots' card party, Anne talks to Captain Wentworth again. She says that eight years ago, Lady Russell poorly advised her to reject him, but she believes she was right to follow that advice. She reasons that "a strong sense of duty is no bad part of a woman's portion." Captain Wentworth blames himself for the long years of separation. Learning that she would have said yes, he wishes that he had asked her to marry him again six years ago. He concludes that he was too proud, and in finally marrying her will be happier than he deserves.

Chapter 24

This chapter is a complete summary by the narrator. Anne and Captain Wentworth announce their engagement. Neither Elizabeth nor Sir Walter openly object. With a very large fortune, Captain Wentworth is now worthy to propose to the daughter of an indebted baronet. Lady Russell is initially upset, but her first desire is to see Anne happy, so she eventually gets over her hurt feelings. She and Captain Wentworth grow fond of each other.

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