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Mary and Charles act as a complete parallel to Anne and Wentworth, Mary showing her absolute selfishness when Charles is at Louisa’s side and she “calls on him for help which he cannot give”. Their relationship is very distant, Mary calling for his devoted attention and expecting to receive as she believes she is most important. This shows her ridiculous egotism and her jealous nature. The words “he cannot give” suggest his numbed irritation at her constant attention seeking. Her “hysterical agitations” imply her need to be the focus of attention and her complete lack of assistance in the situation.
This further substantiates the view shown earlier in the novel that Mary and Charles are “ill suited”. Charles is shown as a simple character who means well, compared to Mary’s mean spiritedness and noble-minded nature. Charles is completely dependant on Anne for instructions, “Anne, what shall we do? ” This in a way shows his simplicity and how he could have been “advanced if he had married someone like Anne”. The Harville’s are portrayed in this novel as a perfect married team, equal and understanding of each other.
We are told that “a look between him and his wife decided what was to be done. ” This suggests that the smallest facial expression can communicate their feelings to each other. This sense of marital teamwork is also paralleled in the Crofts. Sophia and the Admiral are equally as helpful towards each other; these couples could act as a precursor to Anne and Wentworth, as they are intellectual equals and have many traits in common. The passage shows Captain Harville giving the orders and “under Mrs Harville direction” taking Louisa upstairs.
Unlike Mary and Charles they work together for the benefit of everyone else, therefore they are efficient and practical. The Harville’s are generous as Mrs Harville “gives possession of her own bed”. The Harville family are significant here because they can be completely contrasted with the Elliot’s. They also help to highlight the theme of social hierarchy and humbleness. The Harville’s have less to give than the Elliots’ yet they give more. Louisa seems to act as a parallel to Anne. Anne lacking in her youth everything that Louisa has; her happy family life and her strength of mind.
We are told that “Louisa soon grew quite determined”, this is what Wentworth admires in her because she has everything that Anne lacked. However the main event in this passage is Louisa’s youthful exuberance getting the better of her. Her determination grows foolish and she falls from the Cobb. Perhaps if Anne had had the resolve and determination to accept Wentworth’s proposal then she too would have accidentally fallen. In this same way we are told that Louisa was “too precipitate by half a second”, if she had shown hesitation she would have been better off.
This is significant because Wentworth is shown as sensible in his lines “The hardness of the pavement for her feet”; Anne’s sensibility in waiting for him to be able to support her may have been a good thing. What Captain Wentworth thinks as Anne’s submissiveness turns out to be something they have in common and would be the logical, intelligent thing to do. This passage is significant to the novel as a whole in the way that the plot lines of the relationship between Anne and Captain Wentworth and Louisa and Captain Benwick begin to take shape.
Themes are magnified by the accident and issues such as social hierarchy are continued. This passage also helps to define characters, the accident helping their true colours to show through. This can be mainly said for Anne whose true practicality and strong minded nature come through more clearly in this passage.