Persuasion

Jane Austen

A young woman questions whether her love will be worthy of a second chance.

There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison

A tale of romance and second chances, Persuasion focuses on Anne Elliot, a 26-year-old woman from a prominent English family. Aged 19, Anne was engaged to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but the arrangement was met with disapproval from her family, leading Anne to end her commitment. The Elliot family are now in financial turmoil which sees them abandon their former home for Bath, where they hope their luck will change. By a chance of fate, Anne again meets the now-wealthy Frederick Wentworth and must come to terms with the fact that she still longs for him. Wentworth, on the other hand, resents her previous actions and looks elsewhere for a companion. Anne attracts the attention of her cousin while Frederick re-evaluates his feelings for Anne.

Austen’s signature style is abundant in Persuasion: tangled romances, and social barriers of class, wealth and opinion which must be overcome for true romance to blossom. Persuasion is an essential read for any lovers of romance, the strong building of personalities and questioning of social norms are masterfully written to be both dramatic and at points amusing, making the novel welcome to most readers. The strength of the novel is in its unconventional plot, the idea that the two central characters were once betrothed and the tantalising possibility of them reuniting add both depth to the characters romance while breaking the mould of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The gripping affection is crossed with a series of hurdles which make the reader doubt whether or not they will succeed in declaring their feelings and recover from the difficulties in their past.

During the novel, the opinion of Anne’s family plays a pivotal part in who she values as a potential husband. Do you think this is still true today and are her family’s requirements in a suitor still important?

Why do you think in the ending Austen chose for Anne’s family to become accepting of Wentworth rather than Anne to be with Wentworth against her families wishes? Do you think if Austen had shown Anne happily married to Wentworth without the approval of her family then it would have made a stronger statement?

What do you think was the main hinderance in Anne and Wentworth reaffirming their love sooner?

In the end Anne assures Wentworth that she believes that the advice for their separation was right. Why do you think Anne believes that her breaking off the engagement was correct and what do you think she believes that her and Wentworth have gained from their time apart?

The life of naval officers is prevalent in the novel. Why do you think Austen chose to fixate on this particular occupation?

Do you think any of the female characters are shown as empowering? If so which ones and why?

Do you think Lady Russell was a positive or negative influence on Anne’s life?

Captain Benwick’s engagement to Louisa is seen as a shock, especially after his mourning of his previous fiancée. Do you think that Benwick’s feeling for his previous fiancée were as strong as he first suggests? Do you think the second engagement is a coping mechanism or do you think he has recovered?

Discuss Anne’s relationship with Mrs Smith. Do you think Anne trusts her insight into Mr Elliot and why?

Persuasion-Discussion-Questions.pdf

Mr Elliot, Anne’s cousin, reconciles with her father Sir Walter. Her father and sister are overjoyed by the renewed friendship with Mr Elliot and his frequent visits; Anne is suspicious of his sudden interest in the family and believes him to be interested in Elizabeth. Anne worries about the possibility of her father becoming romantically involved with Mrs Clay. A letter arrives informing Anne that Louisa is now engaged to Captain Benwick. The Crofts visit Bath and under Admiral Crofts suggestion, Captain Wentworth soon follows. Anne has brief encounters with Captain Wentworth; however, they are interrupted by Mr Elliot on several occasions, leading Captain Wentworth to become jealous. Anne visits Mrs Smith who tries to assess whether Anne has any intention of marrying Mr Elliot. Mrs Smith informs her of how Mr Elliot encouraged her husband’s spending habits and contributed to her financial ruin. Mrs Smith also reveals the purpose of Mr Elliot’s sudden interest in Anne’s family, that he wants to ensure his position as heir to Kellynch by preventing Sir Walter from ever remarrying. The Musgroves come to Bath to shop for wedding clothes. Anne engages in a conversation about love with Captain Harville in which she says women love longer than men, even when hope is gone. Captain Wentworth overhears the conversation and is deeply moved by Anne’s words; he writes Anne a love note. Anne and Wentworth reaffirm their love for each other and announce their engagement. Upon hearing the news, Mr Elliot leaves Bath with Mrs. Clay. The novel ends with Wentworth having helped Mrs Smith regain some of her fortune and he and Anne happily married.

Persuasion was the last work Jane Austen completed before her death.

Austen’s brother was in the navy and was a key source on her writings concerning naval officers.

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