His two other children were of very inferior value. Mary had acquired a little artificial importance, by becoming
Mrs. Charles Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister; her word had no weight, her convenience was always to give way-- she was only Anne. (4-5)
In contrast to this very low opinion is the treatment she receives when she is with her friends and a frightening crisis occurs. Louse, Mary's sister in law has fallen from a set of high stairs as she was playing with her brother and she has been knocked unconscious.
Anne, attending with all the strength and zeal, and thought, which instinct supplied, to Henrietta, still tried, at intervals, to suggest comfort to the others, tried to quiet Mary, to animate Charles, to assuage the feelings of Captain Wentworth. Both seemed to look to her for directions. "Anne, Anne," cried Charles, "What is to be done next? What, in heaven's name, is to be done next?" Captain Wentworth's eyes were also turned towards her. "Had not she better be carried to the inn? Yes, I am sure: carry her gently to the inn." "Yes, yes, to the inn," repeated Captain Wentworth, comparatively collected, and eager to be doing something. "I will carry her myself. Musgrove, take care of the others." (79)
The contrast of the two apposing views shows that Anne's social approval has increased dramatically over the short time from the opening of the work to the beginning of her more worldly association. Though it is clear that these are two sets of different people and her father does not come around to her side until very near the end when he gives his blessing to the marriage between Frederick and Anne. Yet, it is also clear that she has elevated herself into a more worldly position that allows her to choose the man who had nothing. Frederick is no longer of no consequence as his abilities proved worthy and he has made his fortune but even so he is not of old blood and yet she is perfectly happy to be the wife of a soldier and now knows that had she trusted her instinct at nineteen she would have been equally as happy.
The context of the time, which Jane Austen wrote about is often associated with a very conservative social world and that is especially the case for young women. They were confined to a very limited scope of activities and any meeting they had with the opposite sex were carefully guarded and wrought with concern as so little, by today's standards seemed to be taken so seriously and so personally. In all the glory of a Jane Austen finish, Anne Elliot gets her man, not without plot twists and strange turns of fate but in the end she achieves the happiness that propriety had kept her from earlier and this achievement may not have been so without the broadening of her life.
Austen, Jane Persuasion.…