Jane Austen's Persuasion was one of the last works of Miss Austen. It was published in 1818
after her passing. Persuasion is yet another exciting reads for all types of literature lovers. Yet, we may feel like it has been an overlooked book by the exemplary author.
“I have always seen a great difference in the genius of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ on the one hand, and of ‘Mansfield Park’ and ‘Emma’
on the other. The works last mentioned are, in my opinion, far SUPERIOR in design and execution. ‘Persuasion’ has an air of finality about it that is not to be found in most of Miss Austen's novels. It is an unfortunate work that could never have been written by any author BUT Miss Austen. It was inevitable work. One feels that the story had LONG been in the mind of its creator before ever it saw the light of day." - Sir Walter Scott
In this blog, we will discuss Persuasion, one of Jane Austen's last completed novels which saw the light of day post her death but went unnoticed due to the lack of promotion by her family members. We will also cover how it is considered a literary masterpiece that deserves recognition along with her other novels.
Overview of Jane Austen's Persuasion
In the novel ‘Persuasion’, the action is set in 18th-century England. The story revolves around an eligible bachelor named persuasion, who is an aspiring naval officer. Persuasion falls in love with Anne Elliot, the eldest of the five Elliot sisters.
Anne is an intelligent and sensitive young woman who had an unhappy upbringing due to her father's ill-fate. Persuasion admires Anne for her honesty and integrity and tries his best to win her heart. However, Anne refuses him time and again because of her own feelings for another man, Frederick Wentworth.
Anne had been engaged to Frederick Wentworth at 19. Due to Frederick's social standing, Jane is persuaded y her family to cancel the engagement to safeguard her future. However, after Elliots leaves their home for an affordable place, she comes face to face with her feelings for Frederick. Anne refuses an engagement by Charles as she realizes she still loves Frederick who is now famous and respected after returning home from the war.
Frederick is a naval officer. Anne's younger sister, Mary is married to a rich family. She is selfish and attention-seeking. She feigns illness every time she is upset.
Themes such as love, loss, and hope are prevalent in ‘Persuasion’s’ plot which keeps readers gripped till the end. Additionally, intricate themes such as duty vs independence and guilt vs innocence are also explored throughout the novel.
Jane Austen's writing style in ‘Persuasion’ is ethereal and easy to grasp with elements of satire and humor. Overall, ‘Persuasion’ is an excellent read that will keep you hooked till the end!
The characters and themes of Persuasion
Persuasion is an Austen novel that explores the themes of love, acceptance, and social class. The characters and their dynamic interactions are essential to the story's development. Anne Elliot, the novel's female protagonist, is an intelligent, sensitive young woman who has been brought up in austere circumstances. She was schooled by an affectionate but domineering sister and an austere mother. She soon learns to enjoy the finer things in life such as literature and the arts.
Her relationship with Captain Wentworth begins when they are both teenagers and gradually strengthens over time. Anne is deeply in love with Wentworth, an officer of the navy, but she can't forget that he is from a higher social class than her own family. Her feelings for him are not only romantic but also based on a sense of justice and fair play.
Captain Wentworth is an honest man whose principles compel him to uphold the social hierarchy. He admires Anne for her intelligence and spirit, but can't shake off his infatuation with Miss Grey, a beautiful woman from a wealthy family.
Narrative style: In Persuasion, Austen uses irony and satire quite effectively to highlight the moral dilemmas faced by the characters in the story. An example of this is the scene where Anne visits Captain Benwick at his houseboat along with her sister Mary Musgrove. Even after knowing that Benwick had an affair with Miss Musgrove, Anne goes there to seek his help because she believes he is a good man whom she should trust. In this scene Austen shows how easy it is for Anne to be misguided due to her naiveté about people's true motives.
The social context of Persuasion
In the novel ‘Persuasion’, Jane Austen describes the social context of the Regency era in great detail. The gendered power dynamics of this period are evident in the relationship between Anne and Will. Anne, an independent woman of means, is in a position to choose her own husband, but she is prey to the allure of wealthy viscount who can offer her status and security. Will is an eager suitor with an eye for Anne’s fortune, but he is kept at bay by her moral compass and social status.
Austen also shows the impact of the Napoleonic Wars on society and culture. In ‘Persuasion’, Anne witnesses first-hand the devastation caused by wars and their aftermaths. Austen critiques societal vices such as superficiality and class disparities through satire and irony.
Literary devices in Persuasion
In Persuasion, Jane Austen uses many different literary devices to convey the themes of her novel. Among these are irony, symbolism, allusion, and imagery. Irony is an important device that helps to illustrate the absurdity of a rigid class system and human nature. One example is the opening lines of the novel: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that an administrator in possession of an income of six thousand pounds a year cannot be happy unless he or she is immersed in water’s edge.’ This phrase serves as an ironic statement about the importance of money in the world. Another example of irony is the scene where Anne first meets Mr. Wentworth after being away from him for two years. She first sees him jogging on the beach with “sunny enjoyment’’ on his face, but she soon realizes that it wasn't ‘sunny enjoyment’ at all but ‘sorrow’ (p. 6).
Symbolism is an important device used to convey ideas and messages in a novel. In Persuasion, symbols such as gardens, water, and rain are used to represent the characters' feelings and emotions. For example, Anne's garden symbolizes her hope for happiness as well as her attachment to social status (p. 57). Allusions to Greek myths and other classical works are also prevalent in the novel. For example, ‘Persuasion’ refers to one of Austen's earlier novels, ‘Northanger Abbey’. The use of various literary devices aids readers in understanding the themes and messages of a novel and provides an enjoyable reading experience.
Critical reception of Persuasion
The critical reception of Persuasion has been diverse and multifaceted. Many commentators have noted the novel's thematic sophistication and its nuanced examination of love, marriage, duty, and persuasion. The novel's female characters have received much praise for their strength, agency, and self-worth. In particular, many have discussed the novel's portrayal of women as rational beings capable of making informed decisions and its subtle but powerful use of irony to question questions of morality and society.
The novel is filled with lively discussions on the subject of persuasion. This is evident in scenes such as the one where Anne Elliot attempts to reason with her brother George after his defection from the navy, or in Eleanor's argument with Admiral Croft over the fate of Lady Russell’s baby. Other discussion topics explored in the novel include free will versus determinism, societal pressures to conform, individual motivations, persuasion versus manipulation, and the difficulty of making sound decisions.
Overall, Persuasion offers an insightful analysis of persuasion from a feminist perspective that is sure to engage readers looking for a thought-provoking read
Why is Persuasion considered a classic novel?
Persuasion is considered a classic novel because it follows the conventions of a classic novel with its intricate plot and characters. Austen’s writing style is witty and engaging, creating a timeless narrative of love and self-discovery. The novel explores themes such as pride, prejudice, social class, and gender roles. In Persuasion, Jane Austen explores the idea of marriage in an insightful and nuanced manner.
The main character, Anne Elliot, undergoes an intense transformation over the course of the novel. Anne starts out as an idealistic young woman who believes that marriage will bring her true happiness. However, Anne realizes that she cannot be satisfied with a half-hearted commitment to Edward even though he adores her. She finally learns to value herself and her own opinion, instead of blindly accepting others' perceptions of her. This realization leads to an emotionally satisfying ending for Anne, who finally realizes that true love isn’t defined by marriage but by loving someone unconditionally.
Persuasion is an excellent example of Austen's maturation as a writer. She explores complex themes such as pride, prejudice, social class, and gender roles in an insightful way without losing the reader’s interest in the story or becoming preachy or didactic.
The novel also highlights the importance of self-worth for women at the time - both in terms of their own opinions and abilities - something which is essential for them to be able to reach their full potential in life.
How does Persuasion compare to other Jane Austen novels?
Persuasion is an excellent example of Jane Austen's prose. It has many themes, such as love and family, but also has a number of sub-themes, such as friendship and society. The character of Anne Elliot differs from the other heroines in the novel because she is an independent person who doesn't rely on others for support. She is also an intelligent woman who knows what she wants and sets out to achieve it. The title “Persuasion” signifies the end of the novel when Anne comes to terms with her feelings and decides to act on them instead of letting them fester inside her.
This novel has a more linear structure similar to other Jane Austen novels, with an overarching story followed by several smaller sub-stories. Its style also follows that of most other Jane Austen novels with an emphasis on realistic dialogue and descriptions. Overall, Persuasion is an excellent example of the work of Jane Austen and an enjoyable read for fans of her work.
Persuasion is an underappreciated masterpiece of the English language. It not only brings to life an era long gone, but it also offers an enthralling story that will keep you engrossed from start to finish. If you’ve been putting off reading this literary gem because ‘it’s an old book and won’t be interesting,’ allow me to set the record straight. Not only is Persuasion an enjoyable novel, but it’s also one of the most poignant love stories of all time. So what are you waiting for? Get your hands on a copy of this literary work today!