AP English 12
April 7, 2012
In Persuasion, the last of Jane Austen’s works, the readers are immediately intrigued by the autumnal tone of the piece, and the mellowness of the main character, Anne Elliot. Anne, a twenty-seven year old upper middle class woman, met and fell in love with Captain Frederick Wentworth at the age of nineteen. She was however, forced to break off the relationship at the time because Wentworth was deemed an unsuitable match. Eight years later, they meet again and by that time Captain Wentworth has made his fortune in the navy and has become an attractive catch. Anne was now uncertain about his feelings for her. Persuasion examines English society’s view of marriage and naval profession, the two ways individuals could improve their status, as well as how easily one can be persuaded. The novel poses the question to the reader whether it is better to be firm in one's convictions or to be open to the suggestions of others. As seen through Captain Wentworth and Anne’s actions, what the novel examines as well as what it questions are the major themes of the novel. The novel have three main settings, the country houses in Somersetshire where the novel begins, the village of Lyme Regis where the characters take a trip in the middle of the story, and finally the town of Bath, where everyone ends up. Persuasion can best be compared to another one of Jane Austen’s books, Pride and Prejudice. Both novels talk about the lives of two main characters, Anne in Persuasion and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, and how they both refused proposals and ended up with the guy in the end.
Throughout Persuasion, each setting presents Anne with a different sense of well-being. The narrator explain how Anne’s family views her when stating that, “Elizabeth has succeed, at sixteen to all that was possible, of her mother’s rights and consequences…but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding…her convenience was always to give way; she was only Anne” (Austen 3). Here the readers see that Anne is always looked down upon by her father and elder sister for being plain but intelligent and kind. When she is in Somersetshire, the country settings of the novel, Anne is viewed as virtuous. She is surrounded by her valued friends and her guardian, Lady Russell instead of her cruel father and elder sister, and her wicked cousin, Mr. Elliot. The countryside allows the readers to get a better understanding of Anne’s qualities. In the country, where she is not being judge, Anne gets time to think about the many things that cross her mind. She is able to have time to self-reflect about her actions and how she feels about her first love now that he is back in her life. Only there in the country she is admired for her intelligence and sweet mindedness. When Anne is in the town of Bath, she is constantly surrounded by others and has no time to self-reflect on how she should behave. With little to no time to think Anne begins to use nonsense as an excuse for her emotion as state in this quote, “She often told herself it was folly, before she could harden her nerves sufficiently to feel the continual discussion of the Crofts and their business no evil” (21). She uses folly as a barrier between her and her emotions. That leads her to doubt her feelings for Captain Wentworth. When comparing the different settings of Persuasion, the country setting has a larger impact on the development of Anne’s character. Without the setting it would be very difficult to see Anne’s growth throughout the novel.
In Persuasion marriage and persuasion go hand in hand to make up one of the major themes of the novel. The novels theme depicts the rights and wrongs of being easily persuaded. For instance, Anne turns down Captain Wentworth proposal because Lady Russell did not approve of it. Anne does what Lady Russell says not without...