Persuasion follows Anne Elliot, one of Austen’s quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and most open to change. A woman of no importance, she manoeuvres in her restricted circumstances in the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of adventure, and the making of new fortunes and alliances, as did her long-time love Captain Wentworth. Providence brought the two together once again and we see how persuasion that once separated them rekindled their relationship.
Anne the maiden
The novel centres around Anne who seemed to be everyone’s favourite or at least, a useful person. She has such a kind heart and pleasant demeanour. Her strong opinions and will developed as she aged. This is what I like most about her: she realised her mistake in the past and she did not wallow in sadness or resentment. Instead, she thought of the positive side of the situation and improved her character as time passed.
What’s with Wentworth
He was there and he was gone and now he has come again. Captain Wentworth was, to me, a mysterious figure at the start. Who is this man who has plagued Anne’s mind? What are his good qualities? What is so special about him? He is but a sailor who has acquired his fortune through the wars. Apart from his charm and humble manners, I don’t think I quite understood how well he deserved Anne. Anne’s character is justified in being an intelligent woman. I don’t think the author explored much of Wentworth’s character in relation to Anne. As much as I adore his personality, and not to mention his eloquent writing, I cannot fully commit to admiring him.
I absolutely loathe Anne’s family members. Everyone — her father, her sisters and her cousin — has a certain “Elliot pride”, as they say in the book. I understand their high position in society, what with her father, a Sir Walter Elliot, being a baronet. But that does not mean they should be so odiously conceited. Unfortunately, with fortune comes pride. That kind of attitude seems to still be prevalent in today’s day and age, but I hope that it is not common. I don’t mind a rich person as long as they are kind and charitable.
I find that I understand this novel better reading it as a 22-year-old as opposed to a 16-year-old. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I relate to Anne particularly with regards to her having a different mind than others in her social circle. My image of Captain Wentworth is one of Rupert Penry-Jones who played the character in the 2007 film adaptation. He played the character well and I was besotted. Even so, I feel his character development in the book quite lacking in depth. Perhaps it was because all of his feelings were explained at once at the end and not gradually. The ending was rather abrupt, but I guess poor Jane Austen amidst her illness could not conjure a more satisfactory ending. Nevertheless, I rate this novel quite generously mostly due to Anne’s compassion and also the author’s beautiful writing.
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Limited
Rating: 4 violas