Jane Austen’s Sanditon: Plot Summary Chapters 5-8

Chapter 5

Mr. Parker regrets no mail from his brother Sidney, but does receive one from his sister Diana. He wonders if it will be all about their ill health. Sidney is a saucy fellow “he will have it there is a good deal of imagination in my two sisters’ complaints.” He feels it’s not true, but admits they have wretched health even though people would not guess it by their industry. Arthur who lives with his sisters is also an invalid. He is too delicate to work. Sidney laughs at him but it is no joke. He reads the letter out loud to his wife Mary and Charlotte Heywood. Diana is suffering from “my old grievance, spasmodic bile.” She is concerned about his accident and advises him to apply friction to the sprain. She thanks him for his efforts to find a doctor for Sanditon on their account but they are “entirely done with the whole medical tribe.” They can treat themselves better. She does see the need for one in Sanditon and will put the word about. She can not come to Sanditon. In her present state the sea air would be the death of her not would Susan’s nerves be equal to the effort. Ten days of leeches did not cure Susan’s headaches. She advised her to have three teeth pulled instead. Arthur is languid and she fears for his liver. No word from Sidney. Two possible large families for Sanditon. A rich West Indian from Surrey, and a Girls Boarding Academy from Camberwell. Mr. Parker admires their activity for others despite their illnesses. He is pleased with the news of new guest. Charlotte is alarmed by his sister’s state of health and thinks their measures touch on extremes. Mrs. Parker thinks they carry it all too far. Mr. Parker agrees, especially for Arthur. He should not give way to indisposition and fancy himself to sick to work.

Chapter 6

The Parkers and Charlotte visit then circulating library. Mr. Parker was disappointed in the list of subscribers but feels it will improve. Charlotte adds her name to the list. The Library was full of temptations to buy. She picks up a volume of Camilla.She had not Camilla’s youth, and had no intention of having her distress.” They walk and meet Lady Denham and Miss Brereton and return to Trafalgar House together. Charlotte thinks Lady Denham has a “shrewd eye and self-satisfied air” and abrupt manners. Miss Brereton was sweet, modest and lovely and equated her to a beautiful and bewitching heroine in a novel. She thought she fit the part, but no apparent persecution by Lady Denham. “On one side it seemed protecting kindness, on the other grateful and affectionate respect.” Lady Denham’s fears of loss on her investment in Sanditon were stronger than her partners. She is encouraged by possible arrivals. “No people spend more freely, I believe, than West Indians” but their free spending will raise the price of things. Mr. Parker mentions that the tradesmen must prosper in order to bring goods to them. She does not want butchers prices to rise. She must keep up Sanditon House for deceased husband poor Mr. Hollis’ memory. She has two milch asses to supply milk to the visiting girls Academy if needed. She is sorry he met with an accident at Willingden, but to do so was foolish and he deserved it. She does not think they need a doctor in Sanditon. It will only encourage the servants and poor to think they are ill. She has lived 70 years and never seen a doctor herself.  She believes that if poor Mr. Hollis had not seen one himself, he would still be alive.

Chapter 7

Sir Edward Denham and his sister Esther visit the Parkers. She is cold and reserved. He is handsome with a pleasing address and talked much to Charlotte. She liked him and suspected he thought likewise. They later meet again. “The Terrace was the attraction to all. Everybody who walked must begin with the Terrace.” They meet Lady Denham and Miss Brereton. Sir Edward gazes at Miss Brereton with a look of a lover but Clara does not receive it favorably. Miss Denham is warm and friendly at Lady Denham’s elbow just as “satire or morality would prevail.” Her character is fixed by Charlotte, Sir Edward’s required longer observation. He describes the sea. “The terrific grandeur of the ocean in a storm, its glass surface in a calm, its gulls and its samphire and the deep fathoms of its abysses, its quick vicissitudes, its direful deceptions, its mariners tempting it in sunshine and overwhelmed by the sudden tempest.” She thought him a man of feeling until he started erroneously quoting Scott and she calls him on it. He erroneously quotes Burns, and calls him on it. Burns’ “known irregularities greatly interrupt my enjoyment of his lines. I have difficulty in depending on the truth of his feelings as a lover. I have not faith in the sincerity of the affections of a man of his description. He felt and he wrote and he forgot.” He defends Burn’s passionately with great sentiment. “He was all ardour and truth!… nor can any woman be a fair judge of what a man may be propelled to say, write or do by the sovereign impulses of illimitable ardour.” Charlotte begins to think him downright silly and changes the subject to the weather. She realizes that his choosing to walk with her was done to pique Miss Brereton. Charlotte and Lady Denham discuss Esther Denham’s desire to stay at Sanditon House. She praise Lady Denham but she saw through it all. She was been very liberal to Sir Edward even though she is only the dowager and he the heir, she does not receive a shilling from the Denham estate. Other way round. Sir Edward must marry for money. “And if we could but get a young heiress to Sanditon! But heiresses are monstrous scarce!” Miss Esther must marry someone of fortune too. She prefers that they take lodgings. Charlotte thinks Lady Denham thoroughly mean. Mr. Parker spoke to mildly of her. “His judgment was not to be trusted. His own good nature misleads him.”

Chapter 8

They continue walking and meet Sir Edward at the circulating library. He expounds upon his opinions to Charlotte again. “I am no indiscriminate novel reader. The mere trash of the common circulating library I hold in the highest contempt. You will never hear me advocating those puerile emanations which detail nothing but discordant principles incapable of amalgamation, or those vapid tissues of ordinary occurrences from which no useful deductions can be drawn. In vain may we put them into a literary alembic; we distil nothing which can add to science. You understand me, I am sure?” “I am not quite certain that I do. But if you will describe the sort of novels which you do approve, I dare say it will give me a clearer idea.” “Most willingly, fair questioner. The novels which I approve are such as display human nature with grandeur; such as show her in the sublimities of intense feeling; such as exhibit the progress of strong passion from the first germ of incipient susceptibility to the utmost energies of reason half-dethroned; where we see the strong spark of woman’s captivations elicit such fire in the soul of man as leads him — though at the risk of some aberration from the strict line of primitive obligations — to hazard all, dare all, achieve all to obtain her. Such are the works which I peruse with delight and, I hope I may say, with amelioration. They hold forth the most splendid portraitures of high conceptions, unbounded views, illimitable ardour, indomitable decision. And even when the event is mainly anti-prosperous to the high-toned machinations of the prime character — the potent, pervading hero of the story — it leaves us full of generous emotions for him; our hearts are paralysed. It would be pseudo-philosophy to assert that we do not feel more enwrapped by the brilliancy of his career than by the tranquil and morbid virtues of any opposing character. Our approbation of the latter is but eleemosynary. These are the novels which enlarge the primitive capabilities of the heart; and it cannot impugn the sense or be any dereliction of the character of the most anti-puerile man, to be conversant with them.” “If I understand you aright,” said Charlotte, “our taste in novels is not at all the same.” And here they were obliged to part.” He is influenced by Richardson and his followers. His “great object in life was to be seductive” and regarded it as his duty. “He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces.” Clara was young, dependent and his rival for Lady Denham’s fortune. Clara saw through him, but if he could not seduce her with affection, he would carry her off.

Favorite words

Vouchsafed, beau monde, venturesome, watering-place, milch asses, chamber-horse, physic, verily, beseech, indubitable, vicissitudes, aberrations, coruscations, illimitable, sagacity, forbearance, puerile, emanations, amalgamation, alembic, sublimities, incipient, aberration, amelioration, indomitable, eleemosynary, sagacity and assiduity.


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