Sir Walter and Elizabeth insist that Mrs. Clay continue to stay with them even after Anne’s arrival, increasing Anne’s concern about the development of an attachment between her father and Mrs. Clay. Lady Russell continues to find Sir Walter and Elizabeth’s favoritism towards Mrs. Clay over Anne provoking and improper. However, she finds Mr. Elliot utterly delightful, endowed with good understanding, propriety, and warmth. Anne realizes that she and her friend disagree on certain matters: Lady Russell finds his desire to reconcile with the Elliots perfectly natural, while Anne suspects Elizabeth as his motive.
The evil of Mrs. Clay’s marriage to Sir Walter lies in her inferior social class and obsequious character. It is also worth noting that any son born of such a marriage would immediately become the heir to Sir Walter’s baronetcy. Anne and Lady Russell agree that such a match should be prevented, though they continue to differ on their assessment of Mr. Elliot.
Despite their regard for each other, Anne and Mr. Elliot do not always agree. When Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret, their estranged noble cousins, arrive in Bath, Sir Walter and Elizabeth make every effort to connect with them. Anne is dismayed by their obsession with rank, as she finds these cousins dull and unintelligent. She defines good company as “clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.” Mr. Elliot asserts the importance of good family connections; high-ranking families attract good company, and their family’s social set stands out in a place like Bath. He confides that he is also concerned about Sir Walter’s attachment to Mrs. Clay.
As Anne grows more confident in her judgment and powers of discernment, she becomes more comfortable with disagreements between her and those she respects. She respects Mr. Elliot, but feels that his estimation of good company in terms of family connections to be misguided; she feels that good company is defined by good conversation more than rank. However, they both agree that Mrs. Clay is decidedly not good company for Sir Walter.