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Monday, June 14, 2010

Anne's change of heart

His determined steadfastness to his lodestar won her admiration, the more especially as that star was herself. She began to wonder more and more how she could have so persistently held out against his advances before Bob came home to renew girlish memories which had by that time got considerably weakened. Could she not, after all, please the miller, and try to listen to John? By so doing she would make a worthy man happy, the only sacrifice being at worst that of her unworthy self, whose future was no longer valuable. ‘As for Bob, the woman is to be pitied who loves him,’ she reflected indignantly, and persuaded herself that, whoever the woman might be, she was not Anne Garland.  (Chapter 37)

Bob's lack of communication and his apparent engagement have caused Anne reconsider her feelings for not only Bob but also John.  She realizes that she is the center of John's world and such is not the case with Bob, who may or may not love her, depending on the day or hour.  Anne finds John's "steadfastness" more attractive than Bob's flightiness and John is finally happy, although that happiness is disturbed by a letter from Bob declaring his engagement at an end and his interest in Anne renewed:

I dare not write to Anne as yet, and please do not let her know a word about the other young woman, or there will be the devil to pay. I shall come home and make all things right, please God. In the meantime I should take it as a kindness, John, if you would keep a brotherly eye upon Anne, and guide her mind back to me. I shall die of sorrow if anybody sets her against me, for my hopes are getting bound up in her again quite strong.

Bob knows John's character well enough to know John will honor his wishes.  Nevertheless, Bob presents himself as selfish, knowing his brother's feelings and not considering how Anne must feel at being abandoned by him.  The question becomes will Anne decide her own future or will she place herself at the mercy of Bob's feelings?

The above painting is The Remorseful Lovers by Edward Thompson Davis (1833-1867)

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