This chapter recounts the brief (two-month) romance between Anne and Captain Wentworth seven years before the present narration. Why did the attachment go wrong?
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The name of Captain Frederick Wentworth has particular importance to Anne — one that makes her cheeks flushed and that inspires in her a “gentle sigh” (18). Just over seven years ago, Captain Wentworth and Anne fell deeply in love with each other. The captain was “a remarkably fine young man, with a great deal of intelligence, spirit and brilliancy.” On her side, Anne was “an extremely pretty girl, with gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling” (18).
After only a few months of happiness, however, their relationship came to an abrupt end — for Captain Wentworth had neither family nor fortune to his name. Sir Walter, deeming the relationship a “degrading alliance,” expressed his disapproval silently but severely, while Lady Russell spoke strongly against a “unfortunate” and “youth-killing alliance” (18-19). And Anne, being still young, was persuaded that the relationship must be broken off. Captain Wentworth was overwhelmed by the “feeling [of] himself ill - used by so forced a relinquishment” and left the country (19).