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-  51   1 . The remarkable letter of chapter 23 For eight and a half years,Anne Elliot has longed for the words of Frederick Wentworth’s letter, and we as Persuasion’s readers have waited for them as well—twenty chapters of waiting—since Anne’s first murmuring of “he” “You Pierce My Soul” Feeling Embodied and Persuasion Chapter 2 n 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 and a half years 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 have failed 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 that 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. —Jane Austen, Persuasion -  52   - Part I: Jane Austen and Self-Consciousness at the close of chapter 3. However, I’d like to suggest that we’ve waited far longer for what this letter holds. If Jane Austen’s novels all lead ineluctably to the return of “him” and the proposal (renewed or first offered), the heartfelt moment of declaration between the lovers before Persuasion seems in Austen’s writing to be essentially nonrepresentational, though its idea can be alluded to as a shared ellipse between the lovers.We are given words after the proposal of when each realized that he or she loved, and how each feels now that the acknowledgment has been made. But Austen mostly drops a veil over the actual words of love first exchanged—the words of passion spoken in the moment, not recollected in the tranquility of a moment later from the position of the established “us.”1 Who then is this writer, Austen as Wentworth? Frederick Wentworth overhears Anne Elliot meditate out loud (apparently to Captain Harville) on what she has longed to tell Wentworth throughout the novel—of her attachment to him, disguised still in general terms as “the nature of a woman’s attachment.”And it calls forth from him not speech, but words written in the moment back to her—her call to his response becomes her longings met.Written in the 1. If Darcy’s first declaration fails to incite anything like the passionate desire to attach and instead leads Lizzy to name him the “last man on earth” whom she’d marry, his second goes this far: “‘You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on the subject forever’” (375). In Northanger Abbey, no words directly spoken are given: “She was assured of his affection; and that heart in return was solicited, which perhaps, they pretty equally knew was already entirely his own” (211). Likewise in Sense and Sensibility, the declaration is reported second hand with an added instruction about what it is as readers that we “need” receive as the “said”: “This only need be said;—that when they all sat down to table at four o’clock, about three hours after his arrival, he had secured his lady, engaged her mother’s consent, and was not only in the rapturous profession of the lover, but in the reality of reason and truth, one of the...


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