Can I be completely honest about the Jane Austen Social Scene? I love Mr. Knightley and Mr. Darcy, of course, but it’s Captain Frederick Wentworth who, in my opinion, has the most romantic speech:
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 years and a half 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 fail 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 which 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.
Captain Frederick Wentworth. Even his last name is telling of how far is he is willing to go to be able to be with the woman he loves, essentially making himself worthy (get it, he went and got worth?) to be with Anne. Note: it’s here that I defend Anne being persuaded the first time around to break off the engagement with him. Lady Russell was only trying to look out for Anne’s best interests because she didn’t want her to marry someone with questionable economic prospects.
The Captain Wentworth type is the man you rarely hear about encountering in real life, usually being the romantic archetype of romances where he is the male character who has only truly loved one woman his entire life and has worked so that she might consider him again the next time she sees him. Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot are a couple who broke up, drifted apart, and then went back to each other after several years.
So does the Captain Wentworth type exist outside of the realm of fiction? Perhaps a better question would be is it possible for a relationship to be like that of Wentworth and Elliot, where someone can break another’s heart but there is still a chance to redeem the love?
Maybe Austen titled the novel Persuasion to not only refer to the power of persuasion present in the novel, but for the novel to also serve as a tool to persuade us, as readers, to believe, just for a moment, that this love is possible.