Friday, 11 April 2008

"I can no longer listen in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach."

Gorgeous weather in London today, bar the odd rainstorm. Wednesday was even better, so it was across the Heath to Kenwood, where I sat in the cafe with Aristotle revision (nice ideas, boring presentation). Then the conversation of the women behind me got simply too elderly to bear (a combination of casual racism and health complaints) and so I lay on the grass in front of the house, reading Persuasion*. Very apt.

Which of course reminded me of how Captain Wentworth is My Favourite Austen Hero, much better than that Favourite Cliche of Lazy Journalists Everywhere, Mr Darcy. And this is why, in a handy 10-point list (with added quotations!)

1. Captain Wentworth can have a conversation. Darcy can't. Fact. Broodiness may work for some people, but not for me. Good conversation is Number One Requirement for the future Mr Semaphore.

2. Not only can he have a conversation with Anne, he can have a conversation with almost everyone. He even talks to Mrs Musgrove about her son, who we all know to have been a complete tit and who Anne suspects he did his best to be rid of when the boy was a midshipman: "doing it with so much sympathy and natural grace, as shewed the kindest consideration for all that was real and unabsurd in the parent's feelings."

3. Although Anne frequently notices a look of contempt in response to those around him, it is only for those who display unkindness or snobbery or other wanky behaviour. Moreover, he never actually says anything about it, and it probably is only Anne who sees it at all, usually because she's thinking the same thing. Contrast that to Mr Darcy, snob extraordinaire.

4. A connected point. Anne's family is twenty times worse than Elizabeth Bennett's, but Wentworth never mentions this to her. The closest he comes is in his (understandable) resentment against Lady Russell. And then we have Mr Darcy, who insults Elizabeth's family while proposing to her. That can't just be put down to social awkwardness. That's just rubbish.

5. Wentworth is kind. He frequently shows his care and consideration for Anne - insisting that she join the Crofts in their gig after the walk to Winthrop, helping her when Walter is being a pain, checking that she hasn't suffered from shock as a result of Louisa's fall (the only one who does, I think). But also for others - for Harville, taking on the responsibility for resetting Benwick's portrait, or for Benwick himself, when he went to tell him about Phoebe's death "and never left that poor fellow for a week". And then he helps Mrs Smith get her property back "with the activity and exertion of a fearless man and a determined friend." Yummy.

6. Compared to Grumpy McGrumpypants Darcy, Wentworth's manners are never criticised. In fact, Mr Elliot's manners are compared to his: "His manners were so exactly what they ought to be, so polished, so easy, so particularly agreeable, that she could compare them in excellence to only one person's manners. They were not the same, but they were, perhaps, equally good." Of course, this is as much proof of how Anne can't stop thinking about him...

7. He can take a joke, and he can give one. GSOH, definitely.

8. He is a successful captain, and a good sailor. This is Requirement Number 2 for the Future Mr Semaphore. Take note, please.

9. He likes Anne. This sounds stupid, I know. But Anne is a lovely, lovely character, and so for him to love her shows his own worth(Went)** She is clever, sensible, kind, but unappreciated by far too many people. He doesn't make that mistake, and tries to make other people notice her too.

10. Best. Proposal. Ever. By letter? Because he can't keep quiet any longer? Oh yes PLEASE.

Plus marrying Wentworth means you get Admiral Croft as your brother-in-law, and he is FANTASTIC.

Of course, he's not perfect. Nor does he have ten thousand a year and Pemberley. But kind, warm, friendly, sensible, unpretentious vs broody and Misunderstood? Anytime.

*Third time. In case you were wondering.

**Sorry. Couldn't resist.


  1. 11. Although the letter is quickly written when he can't contain himself any longer, it is the best proposal ever.

    And, Persuasion has the best Austen screen adaptation (The Ciaran Hinds one), although Rupert P-H might be a bit prettier.

    And, Anne is the best Austen heroine too.

  2. Should have written 'STILL the best proposal ever' Gah - serves me right for posting at 1am!

    Nice list by the way. I'm not going for a second Mr Chatterbox unless he meets absolutely all these criteria.

  3. 12. And of course his very existence means we get the likes of Ciaran Hinds and Rupert Penry Jones all dressed up to play him.
    (Tho' the Ciaran Hinds version is better, and not only because they stick Wentworth in Naval Uniform).

  4. Chatterbox: there is a facebook group entitled something like "Disney films gave me unrealistic expectations of romance". I think there should be another saying "Captain Wentworth gave me unrealistic expectations of men." Bah.

    And you are right, the Ciaran Hinds/Amanda Root Persuasion just pips old faithful Pride and Prej (although it's a close run thing). Rupert IS prettier, it must be said. Shame we can't somehow ... merge the two. Somehow.

    swiv: God bless Jane Austen, for without her what would we do for our Dashing-Men-In-Boots-and-Breeches fix? And naval uniform, of course, although I spose there's always Hornblower for that...

  5. Hornblower just isn't quite as fetching though (although, hello Robert Lindsey as Pellew... did I just write that 'out loud'?), and dear Archie, bless him, wasn't grown up enough. As Lee in BSG however...

    I would like to point out that occasionally I watch things for content beyond pretty men.

  6. Dear god, girl, can you get out of my brain! These similarities are scary. Except for the Pellew thing because that's just STRANGE.

    Hornblower is lovely, and Archie was lovely and very pretty.

    I only wanted to watch BSG when I realised that he was in it being gorgeous. Sue me.

    Your point is accepted. I would like to say "me too" except it would be a FLAGRANT LIE.