Anne is struck again by how dramatically the concerns of the Musgroves differ from the Elliots; the former have minimal interest in the affairs of aristocracy and Kellynch, which so preoccupy her father and Elizabeth. It is with humbling recognition that Anne reflects on her good fortune of having a truly sympathetic and balanced friend in Lady Russell. Instead, the Musgroves are absorbed with hunting, house-keeping, and music.
The Musgroves also present another tier of English social class; they are wealthy and landed, but not titled. As such, their concerns differ considerably from the self-absorbed Elliots: they care little for the aristocracy, and they are interested mainly in sports, dress, and social parties—local affairs and house-keeping.
Charles is civil and agreeable, more sensible and even-tempered than Mary. While a better woman might have improved his habits and character, he wastes his time on sport. He and Mary are happy enough as a couple, as he manages Mary’s moods well.
Charles and Mary are happy enough as a couple, but they lack the compatibility or complementarity of a real match of minds and hearts. As in Sir Walter’s marriage, Mary—though not Charles—benefits from her spouse’s superior temperament.
Anne is well-liked by the Musgroves. The children respect her more than their mother, and all parties confide and complain to her. She often finds herself in the uncomfortable situation of mediator, as each party ask her to persuade the others to make changes. Charles wants Mary to stop imagining herself ill; Mary wants Charles to take her complaints seriously; and Mrs. Musgrove wants Mary to manage her household and children better. Anne listens patiently, attempting to soften their grievances, encourage good will, and give her sister beneficial hints.
Although Anne is unappreciated and overlooked in her own family, she is admired and liked by the Musgroves—even more than her own sister who has married into the family. They all recognize her capability, kindness, and good sense, qualities that make her a good mediator, confidante, and advisor.
The first weeks of Anne’s visit pass pleasantly in neighborhood visits and dinner parties, as the Musgroves are very popular. But Anne soon feels sad at the prospect of strangers moving into Kellynch Hall. The Crofts return Charles and Mary’s visit, giving Anne the opportunity to meet them. Mrs. Croft has an amiable and easy manner. To her excitement and anxiety, Anne learns that Captain Wentworth will soon be visiting.
Whether because of her temperament, past sorrows, or mature years, Anne experiences life in a more seriously reflective and introversive manner than most of the other characters; even in the midst of the cheerful Musgroves, she is mindful of the reality that she has lost her home. However, she is still able to fairly appreciate the Crofts’ worth.
Mrs. Musgrove is unsettled by the mention of Captain Wentworth. Her son Dick, a troublesome and stupid youth, was sent to work in the Navy and served under Captain Wentworth. She recalls that Dick spoke highly of Captain Wentworth, who treated him very well. Although Dick was unmanageable, his death at sea grieved his mother and she resolves to welcome Captain Wentworth warmly into the neighborhood in his memory.
We learn about Captain Wentworth first from the memories and reports of others, through which Austen sets the stage for his entry into the novel. Mrs. Musgrove’s account of his treatment to her delinquent son hint at his kindness and compassion as well as his capability and skill as an officer.