Chapter 20 Summary

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Sir Walter is out for the evening with both his daughters and Mrs. Clay. They are waiting for the arrival of Lady Dalrymple before they go into the main hall for the night’s recital. While they are waiting, Captain Wentworth walks in. He looks as if he might pass Anne with a mere bow, but he stops to talk to her once Anne calls out to him.

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Wentworth comments about the time that has elapsed since they last saw one another at Lyme. They continue in conversation about the events that took place while they were both there and what has happened since then, especially the development between Louisa and Captain Benwick. Although Wentworth wishes the couple well, he does cast some doubt as to whether Benwick and Louisa will be happy. Louisa is a very friendly person and “not deficient in understanding,” Wentworth says, but he questions if this is enough for Benwick, who is deeper and more clever. He wonders if Benwick might have attached himself to Louisa prematurely—perhaps he needed her comfort too much and has confused this feeling with love. Louisa was also in need and might be thinking they are well matched. Wentworth wonders if their feelings for one another are strong enough to last.

The conversation between Anne and Wentworth is interrupted when Lady Dalrymple enters the hall, escorted by Mr. Elliot. Captain Wentworth becomes somewhat lost in the crowd of the new arrivals and Anne’s family. Anne looks for him but cannot find him. She enters the main room with this entourage, though her thoughts remain with Wentworth. She wonders, do his comments about Louisa imply that he did not hold Louisa in as high esteem as she had imagined? Had he felt all along that Louisa’s emotional and intellectual depth were lacking? Anne allowed her imagination to bloom as she wondered if the attention he paid to her this evening as well as his willingness to open up to her meant...

(The entire section contains 524 words.)

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