Austen's Persuasion
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Austen's Persuasion
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Joanna Trollope: What Jane Austen knew about class - New Statesman

Joanna Trollope: What Jane Austen knew about class - New Statesman | Austen's Persuasion | Scoop.it
Joanna Trollope: What Jane Austen knew about class New Statesman This requirement to see people earn their merit, rather than assume it by virtue of birth to wealth, is not very far from Austen's world and perceptions, in essence: she has no...
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Detail: Homes and Houses

This is from a recent essay by Albert Wnek. It contains some useful detail regarding the Musgroves' home

Hippo's insight:

There is also a palpable contrast in the settings in which the Musgroves and the Elliots live. Kellynch hall is symbolic of the vanity of the Elliots because of the presence of so many mirrors. The fact that the well-mannered Admiral Croft makes adjustments to the house which improves the building is extremely significant because Austen is devaluing the class divide within society; the Crofts are more suited to the hall its ancestral occupants. Conversely, The Musgrove home is represented as an understated but warm and domestic space. Anne comments on the seeming lack of order in the house “. Oh! could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness!’ The Great House is presented as a home rather than a house. Anne visits the Mugroves’ home in the Christmas period and observes the scene which is described in such a picturesque and almost hyperbolic manner that allows the reader to immediately determine the values of the Musgrove family: ‘On one side was a table, occupied by some chattering girls, cutting up gold and silk paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire …  It was a fine family-piece.’ This description creates the vivid image of, not only a warm home, but a loving family, something that could not be further from Anne’s situation.

There is a contrast between the modern generation of Louisa and Henrietta and their ancestors represented in the portraits. At the beginning of the novel Austen remarks on this divergence between generations: ‘The father and mother were in the old English style and the young people in the new. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove were a very good sort of people; friendly and hospitable, not much educated, and not at all elegant. Their children had more modern minds and manners’.  This description of the Musgrove family is affectionate and endears the reader to the family. The fact that Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove are not ‘much educated, and not at all elegant’ shows that they prioritise their family and their daughters over the ‘proper nothings’ that Sir Walter and Elizabeth are so interested in.  Sir Walter’s relationship with Anne is therefore contrasted with that of Mr. Musgrove and his daughters. Anne is filled with dread when arriving in Bath to stay at Camden-Place with her sister and father: ‘Anne entered it with a sinking heart, anticipating an imprisonment of many months’. Anne’s apprehension at residing with Sir Walter and Elizabeth again epitomises the lack of warmth the Elliot’s posses and this could be related to the fact that the Elliots are members of the landed gentry. The reception Anne receives from the Musgroves is much more welcoming: ‘They were received with great cordiality. Nothing seemed amiss on the side of the Great House family.’ The Musgroves are not of any established rank and therefore it could be argued that the presence of rank and social class in the novel detracts from true family values. This can also be seen with the Harvilles who, being a family from the navy, place family values over the conventions of wealth which is displayed by their small home in Lyme.

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Money and Wealth in Persuasion

Hippo's insight:

I recently set an essay on the significance of money and wealth in the novel. This link should take you to the resources on the intranet, where you should find  Harriet Gillett's PPI from the L6th in which she discusses these.   

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Jonny Continues

Here his guide looks at Chapters 11 and 12

Hippo's insight:

CHAPTERS 11-12 Summary:

Lyme trip (no pun intended); Wentworth, Anne and the young Musgroves travel to Lyme-Regis. We meet Captains Benwick and Harville, and upon meeting them Louisa gives effusive praise towards seamen. Captain Harville is established as an eminently practical man despite his lameness: “He drew, he varnished, he carpented, he glued; he made toys for the children, he fashioned new netting needles and pins with improvements; and if every thing else was done, sat down to his large fishing-net at one corner of the room”. Captain Benwick, on the other hand, is a man in mourning who reads poetry to indulge his melancholy. Mr Elliot, cousin to the Elliot’s of Kellynch, appears in chapter 12 shortly before chaos breaks out; as Louisa falls from the Cobb and is “taken up lifeless”. Anne suddenly becomes the centre of all action as she takes control of the situation; Captain Wentworth is forced to reconsider his valuation of “strength of character”.

“Hooks” and Other Things Worth Considering

Big Up the Lower Classes! - A miniscule but hugely important detail appears in chapter 11 and is presented through the waiter at the Inn in Bath. Upon being asked if the servant of the  man whom the group has seen (Mr Elliot) is of the Kellynch family, the waiter says:

“No, ma’am,- he did not mention no particular family; but he said his master was a very rich gentleman, and would be a baronight one day.”

A “baronight”- the waiter has no idea what a Baronetcy is. Titles, rank and social standing mean nothing to the lower classes, and the waiter in Bath demonstrates this perfectly. Charles Musgrove is an example of how the nouveau riche (for such, to all intents and purpose, the Musgroves are) care very little for social decorum. Indeed, he is not afraid to scorn aristocratic convention; his reaction to having “promised” to go to the Elliot’s evening party:

“No, I did not promise. I only smirked and bowed, and said the word ‘happy’. There was no promise.” (Ch.22)

shows how he views the “heartless elegance” (211) of the landed gentry to be practically laughable. The more cutting comment that “There was no promise” is suggestive of a deeper criticism of these customs: these are “give and take” invitations, and not the invitations “from the heart” that are seen between the naval officers, and it would appear that Charles is aware of this.

The Navy- It is in these chapters that we see the presentation of the navy developed more than anywhere else in the novel. We have already, in chapter 8, heard Wentworth say “I would bring any thing of Harville’s from the world’s end, if he wanted it”, but in these chapters we see naval friendships in practice. The dinners that take place in Lyme are not ones of “formality and display (91) as Anne is used to, and are instead filled with “great happiness” (92). This friendly community brings back painful recollections for Anne, who considers that “These would have been all my friends” (92) if she had married Wentworth eight years ago. We have already seen the Crofts’ ideal marriage, and here we see what we might call “ideal friendships” among the naval characters.

 

A Kindred Spirit- Bereaved Captain Benwick is glad to have Anne in Bath to discuss literature; something which he is unable to do with his fellow naval officers. Benwick is also a useful parallel to Anne as far as lost love is concerned: ““And yet,” said Anne to herself, as they now moved forward to meet the party, “he has not, perhaps, a more sorrowing heart than I have” (p. 91, ch. 11) It is worth considering why, despite all of the poems and books that are said to be discussed between the two, Austen should give Benwick no direct speech. Obviously a sentimental character, it is possible that Austen did not wish to weigh down the storyline with the heavy melancholy musings that Benwick no doubt would produce were he given the chance. It may simply be, however, as John Mullan suggests, that Benwick’s “outpouring amounts to no real expression of individual feeling or opinion” and is, as such, omitted from the recorded speech of the novel. Captain Benwick, then, despite being the instigator of Captain Wentworth’s becoming “unshackled and free” (and as such being an integral part of the novel’s plot), plays no part in the dialogue that Austen presents us with.

 

Vanity Fair- Not only is the navy an important entity as far as the novel’s plot is concerned, it also serves to emphasise the foppery and superficiality of the landed-gentry. Sir Walter comments at the novel’s opening that the navy “brings persons of obscure birth into undue distinction” (ch.3, p 20); naval figures have no place in “the volume of honour” (p223, ch.24) in Sir Walter’s opinion, and he also thinks that “a sailor grows old sooner than any other man” (p 20). The fact that a “conceited, silly” (p. 6, ch.1) man holds these opinions, however, ironically serves to raise our opinion of the navy. We’ve already seen the happy naval community that is depicted in the novel, and the contrast that it forms with landed-gentry customs make the navy appear far superior. For a practical example of this contrast, look at the transformation of Kellynch hall: full of looking-glasses, ordered gardens (19) and general pomp and ceremony, Kellynch in the hands of the Elliots is a physical representation of Walter and Elizabeth’s vanity. “A prize indeed would Kellynch Hall be to (a tenant),” says Sir Walter in chapter 3, “rather the greatest prize of all”. Compare this to the Crofts in Kellynch in chapter 13: looking glasses removed, doors fixed (by the Crofts themselves), umbrellas by the door, the Crofts turn Kellynch into a home rather than a status symbol. Anne notes herself that “they were gone who deserved not to stay, and that Kellynch-hall had passed into better hands than its owners”. The contrast between the landed-gentry and that navy is integral to the development of both sides in the novel, and serves (we may infer) to portray Jane Austen’s opinions of both circles. The daughter of a country curate, Austen’s family were members of what we might call the “lower” landed gentry; people of a certain rank, but nothing to necessarily boast about. It is also important to remember that two of Austen’s brothers were in the navy, and it is thought that her brother Charles was the inspiration for the character of Admiral Croft.

In Volume 2 we see all of these ideas developed further. We see vanity taken to new extremes; we see the culmination of Anne’s transformation from “only Anne” into an embodiment of “happiness itself; we see the exposure of the novel’s villains. We also see how the novel, not only in terms of the story but also the structurally, comes full-circle.

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Jonny Wiles' revision guide

..in which Jonny explores significant points in the opening chapters

Hippo's insight:

Plot Overview:

“Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall in Somersetshire…” – Chapter 1

Chapters 1-5 Summary:

We are introduced to the Elliots (Anne, Sir Walter, Elizabeth, Mary); their financial difficulties are established, as is their “grandiose self-congratulation” (Marvin Mudrick, Persuasion: The Liberation of Feeling). Mr Shepherd persuades Sir Walter to rent out Kellynch Hall and move to Bath (against Anne’s silent protestation), and the Crofts move into Kellynch. We are introduced to Anne and Wentworth’s backstory and, from a technical point of view, we see tensions established that are developed as the novel progresses. Anne is summoned to look after Mary, who is “ill”.

“Hooks” and other things worth considering:

Solitude: “(Mansfield Park and Persuasion) are the novels of the solitary heroines” (C.S. Lewis, Two Solitary Heroines). Right from the beginning of the novel we see that Anne, more than any other of Austen’s heroines, is ostracised from her family circle. At the beginning of the novel, we are told, “She was only Anne”, and this quotation is hugely important when looking at the novel as a whole: from being silent, passive and, ultimately, unimportant at this stage of the story, we see her find her voice, we see her take action, and we see her become integral to the happiness (indeed, the safety in the case of Louisa Musgrove in chapter 12) of many characters. Here, at the novel’s opening, we see the “before” shot of Anne- Sir Walter goes so far as to think of her as “haggard”-, for the “after” shot look no further than chapter 21 (p.181): “Prettier musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy, could never have passed along the streets of Bath, than Anne was sporting with from Camden-place to Westgate-buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way”. Prizes go to anyone who can find a more overtly romantic description in any of Austen’s other novels!

 

Age: It’s important to remember that Anne Elliot is Austen’s oldest heroine (Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse are 20, Elinor Dashwood is 19, Fanny Price is 18 and Catherine Morland is 17); by the end Persuasion Anne is 28. In 19th Century Britain if you were 28 you were getting old and your prospects of marrying well would have been dwindling to the point of extinction. Anne doesn’t just come close to losing Wentworth, she comes perilously close to losing all prospects of marriage. As an ageing second daughter she doesn’t have much to offer from a materialistic point of view, and at the beginning of the novel she doesn’t have good looks to help her. Persuasion is, in every sense, an autumnal novel: the November walk doesn’t just serve to tell us what time of year it is, it show us symbolically that Anne is very much in the “autumn” of her youth.

 

The Aristocracy: Sir Walter, Elizabeth and Mary are among the most foppish characters to be found in the Austen canon (for others see Mr Rushworth in Mansfield Park and John Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility). Much of the comedy of the novel emanates from these self-obsessed characters: Mary’s letter in Chapter 18 is full of self-contradictions and vanity, all of which are overshadowed by Sir Walter who forgets about her very existence in chapter 15. Beneath the comedy that these characters provide, however, lies something rather more serious. Sir Walter “never took up any book but the Baronetage”, indeed, it’s his “favourite volume”, but it’s important to remember that this is the book that documents the death of his wife and his son. One cannot take the fact that he derives so much pleasure from a book that reminds him of these things to suggest that Sir Walter and Lady Elliot were never happy together (see pp. 5-6 for details). Below the light-hearted satire of the landed gentry, (of which Jane Austen was a part, albeit on a rather small scale), a powerful third-dimension is added to Sir Walter and, as a result, the rest of the aristocratic characters. More on the Dalrymples later…

 

 

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Examples: Wentworth

Two different but very good examples of introductions...

Hippo's insight:

Here is an exemplar introduction to the exam question "Discuss the significance of Wentworth in the novel." I don't know by which name the author would like to be known (I'm guessing Charles Musgrove).

 

Discuss the significance of Wentworth in Persuasion.

Within Persuasion, Wentworth represents the unpretentious naval class. He is shown to be socially mobile through his physically mobility in contrast to the landed aristocracy who appear only to move in very limited circles. The vitality and passion of the rising and newly moneyed naval class in the early 19th century is shown through Wentworth’s own passion and vitality. Austen uses Wentworth as a model of passion: he does not allow his passions to get the better of him yet is still true to himself thus striking a balance between prudence and romance. He therefore helps Anne on her Journey out of the periphery and away from the aristocratic classes who do not understand the value of Anne. Yet it would be misleading to see Wentworth merely as a caricature of virtue (as it would be equally misleading to see Sir Walter Elliot as merely a caricature of pomposity); such a character would appear two dimensional and unbelievable. Wentworth is thus made to appear viscously Jealous at several points in the novel which Austen uses to make the Captain even more likeable and romantic. To this end, he is contrasted with William Elliot (the man Anne is expected to marry) who as opposed to exhibiting qualities of passion or jealously, appears overly polished and superficial. The charm of Wentworth (and the navy) is his imperfectness, his lack of concern for the society of manners in which the landed gentry move; above all, Austen praises him for being genuine.

 

This introduction to the same essay is by NurseRooke69. Thank you, Fred. 

 

Excluding Anne, it is arguable that Wentworth is the most multi-faceted character in Austen’s Persuasion, predominantly because of the number of things he represents. On one level, he, along with Harville and Benwick, epitomises ‘the character of the navy – their friendliness, their brotherliness, their openness.’ He is a member of the new, dynamic, up-and-coming class of heroic naval officers that arrived in England during the early 19th century. On another level, Wentworth represents both Anne’s romantic counterbalance and her agent of escape. Wentworth is a man of physicality and action. He rescues Anne from the clutches of Walter Musgrove, he helps Anne into the Crofts’ carriage and he makes the physical journey to Bath just to see Anne. Even at the climax of the novel, Wentworth cannot verbally express how Anne ‘pierce[s]’ his ‘soul’, he must physically write it down in order to communicate his love for her. Above all, however, Wentworth is a man with ‘nothing but himself to recommend him…’ He is unencumbered by the ‘proper nothings’ of the minor aristocracy and is enabled by his virtuous and ultimately pure love for Anne. Of course, he is not without fault; Wentworth’s initial ‘cold politeness’ and ‘ceremonious grace’ make him appear first as part of the ‘unnourishing world’, as John Wiltshire puts it, of Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Yet, these faults only serve to make Wentworth appear more human and, therefore, they make his later love for Anne all the more genuine. Wentworth is significant, for the reader and for Anne, because he is ‘not able to feign’ what he is not; he must be himself and, therefore, he encourages Anne, in her love for him, to do the same. Thus, Wentworth must develop as Anne has throughout the novel; he must learn to ‘brook being happier than’ he deserves.  

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Looking for that quotation in Persuasion?

Hippo's insight:

A quick link to an etext edition.

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Hippo's comment, April 26, 2013 3:57 AM
Remember <ctrl +f> will help you find key words
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The BoffNet Bookclub Continues, "Persuasion" Volume 1 | Jonny

The first of a two part special in which Jonny talks about Volume 1 of Jane Austen's 1818 novel, "Persuasion" Subscribe? http://www.youtube.com/subscription_...
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Lady Russell's secret delight

p116

Hippo's insight:

(Orla's insight)

We are told that Lady Russell "was generally speaking rational and consistent...and had a delicate sense of honour."

 

However, on p116, when Lady Russell learns that Wentworth is attracted to Louisa, "her heart revels with angry pleasure." This is hardly "delicate" and reflects how unsuitable she thought Wentworth for Anne - she feels his attraction to Louisa reveals the limitations of his judgment and character.

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Hippo's comment, April 25, 2013 8:44 AM
Orla promises there is more to come on the iniquities of Lady Russell!
Jonny Wiles's comment, April 25, 2013 3:44 PM
Might we comment on Anne's eventual "persuasion" of Lady Russell and Captain Wentworth into friendship?
LadyElliot's comment, April 26, 2013 3:56 AM
A further note that Lady Russell suffers from social anxiety-
pg 12, 'Lady Russell was most anxiously zealous on the subject' again, on page 115, she has 'some anxiety' upon meeting Mrs Smith. Also see;
‘Lady Russell, as satisfied as ever with her own discretion, never wished the past undone, she began now to have the anxiety which borders on hopelessness for Anne's being tempted…’
‘The only one among them, whose opposition of feeling could excite any serious anxiety was Lady Russell.’
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Why Louisa and Benwick get it on

p157

Hippo's insight:

(Bertie Wnek's insight).

 

Unlike many other marriages in the novel, such as Henrietta and Charles, this relationship does not arise because of position in society but geographical position. Louisa and Benwick are forced to spend time together in Lyme and inevitavbly they fall in love. Either this is a happy coincidence or Austen is challanging the idea of others persuading a  couple to marry . Initially, Benwick and Louisa are opposites. "The high-spirited, joyous, talking Louisa Musgrove and the dejected, thinking, feeling reading Captain Benwick." The fact that these two marry is a genuine understanding that came about "through situation". They had been thrown together and what are two young people going to do?

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Hippo's comment, April 25, 2013 8:45 AM
An interesting relationship in light of the others in the novel. Feel in love as they spent time together and about to be married with little fuss.
Mrs Croft's comment, May 2, 2013 7:42 AM
The idea of geographical proximity impacting the action of the novel is a recurring theme. In the cities (Bath and Lyme) everyone is thrown together, this is partly due to the presence of society. Social events mean that everyone sees one another frequently and so relationships develop quicker. For example, Anne and Wentworth find themselves often in the same location.
Mrs Croft's comment, May 2, 2013 7:44 AM
Also, the physical proximity means that there are lots of "suprise" encounters, such as Wentworth and Anne meeting whilst Anne is walked home by Harville. Another way in which physical proximity speeds up events is Wentworth's overhearing of Anne and Harville's conversation.
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Anne's final embarrassment

Pg 234

Hippo's insight:

(This is U6eA1's insight): (Typed by Orla!)

 Anne's happiness at the end of the novel is tempered (very slightly) because she has 'No relations to bestow upon him which a man of sense could value' . This is ironic because it is written at the start: 'Which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding' (pg7) - Clearly, only Mrs Smith and Lady Russell in Anne's initial circle have any real understanding.

 

Anne's embarrasment is the antithesis of the Elliot pride. She has only two friends (Mrs Smith and Lady Russell) who can enhance Wentworth's life, whilst, of course, Mary, Elizabeth and Sir Walter are very proud of the family name and who they are. They would understand that, in marrying a baronet's daughter, Wentworth had become better connected.

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Mr Darcy's sense and sensibility

2 useful extracts from P and P

Hippo's insight:

  

The emotional charge in the penultimate chapter of Persuasion is evident in the “overpowering happiness” Wentworth’s emotional outpourings in his letter trigger in Anne. It is worth comparing to Darcy’s struggle between passion and reason (prudence and romance again) in Pride and Prejudice

 

 "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

 

And, of course, the much more tempered, rational letter Darcy writes the next day.

 

"Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten; and the effort which the formation, and the perusal of this letter must occasion should have been spared had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.

 

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Jane Austen, Persuasion, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Hippo's insight:

Views on Anne's Romantic nature and some interesting comparisons to Pride and Prejudice.

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Mary VS Mrs Musgrove

One of the Musgroves on Mary's view of her place... "I have no scruple of observing to you, how nonsensical some persons are about their place, because all the world knows how easy and indifferent you are about it; but I wish anybody could give Mary a hint that it would be a great deal better if she were not so very tenacious, especially if she would not be always putting herself forward to take place of mamma. Nobody doubts her right to have precedence of mamma, but it would be more becoming in her not to be always insisting on it. It is not that mamma cares about it the least in the world, but I know it is taken notice of by many persons."

Hippo's insight:

Thanks, Andrea

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Sisters in Austen's novels:Laura S. Dabundo

Sisters in Austen's novels:Laura S. Dabundo | Austen's Persuasion | Scoop.it
Hippo's insight:

I recently set an essay on the significance of the Musgroves in the novel. Will Monroe recommended this essay, which comes from the Jane Austen Society of North America website.

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Jane Austen: Strictly ballroom

Jane Austen: Strictly ballroom | Austen's Persuasion | Scoop.it

For Jane Austen's heroines a ball is a rare chance to mingle with the opposite sex. Now a BBC reconstruction of the Netherfield dance reveals the rigid social conventions that governed regency life.

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Jonny Wiles' revision guide

...in which Jonny considers some significant points regarding chapters 6-10

Hippo's insight:

CHAPTERS 6-10 Summary:

The Crofts move into Kellynch, the Elliots settle in Bath. A party takes place at the Mr and Mrs Musgrove (senior)’s house which Anne avoids attending by offering to look after Mary’s children. Mary reports to Anne that Captain Wentworth “was not very gallant by (her)” the next day. In chapter 8 Anne and Wentworth are finally forced to meet each other again, and he begins his relationship with the Musgrove sisters. Discussion breaks out as to which of the two sisters is preferred by Wentworth; Charles Hayter, the Musgroves’ cousin and Henrietta’s suitor, is roundly dismissed by Mary. Being called upon to look after the young Musgroves again, Anne has young Walter climbing over her when she is “rescued” by Captain Wentworth. Chapter 10 describes the pivotal November walk, where Anne accidentally overhears the painful development of Wentworth’s relationship with Louisa Musgrove.

“Hooks” and Other Things Worth Considering:

Autumn- This section of the novel occurs during the late stages of the year 1814, in the autumn of the year. This motif is reflective of the “autumn” of Anne’s romantic prospects (see earlier section on age), and emphasises the “second spring” of beauty that Anne experiences as the novel progresses. As we move into the new year (1815) we see the development of Anne’s looks and her new-found strength of character, and so just as we see the physical spring of the novel taking place, so to do we see the metaphorical spring of Anne.

 

Physicality- We see several instances of physical interaction between Anne and Wentworth; the first of these occurs in chapter 8 where Anne is “released” from young Walter’s grasp by Wentworth. Another is in chapter 10 where he helps Anne into the carriage: “Yes, - he had done it”. It is these physical acts that act as reassurances (or at least glimmers of hope) for Anne, and in them she thinks she sees Wentworth’s unspoken continued affection. It is interesting also that the most physical moment of the novel (Louisa’s fall on the Cobb) gives rise to Wentworth’s becoming “unshackled and free”, and ultimately allows Anne and Wentworth to renew their love. Physicality, then, is a driving force for the novel as a whole, and these fleeting moments of physical contact that pass between Anne and Wentworth should not be ignored when considering the development of their relationship.

 

Anne and Nuts- Irony is as rife in Persuasion as it is in any other Austen novel, and there is no irony more bitter than that seen on the November walk. Consider Wentworth’s description of the hazelnut when he talks with Louisa:

 

“A beautiful glossy nut which, blessed with original strength, has outlived all the storms of autumn!”

The nut is, of course, the perfect metaphor for Anne, but Wentworth doesn’t see this. It is Anne’s strength of character (which, we must remember, is the trait which Wentworth initially prizes above all others) which allows her to outlive the “storms” of the eight years that she has spent apart from him. This is not the only time that Wentworth inadvertently describes Anne: in chapter 7 he describes his ideal woman to Mrs Croft as one with “A strong mind, with a sweetness of manner”. It cannot be a coincidence that one of the first things that we are told about Anne is that she has “an elegance of mind and a sweetness of character”. Right from the novel’s opening we see Anne and Wentworth’s compatibility, but in true Austen style the characters take a long time to see the irony that is obvious to the reader.

An Ideal Husband (and Wife)- In the Crofts we see an ideal marriage, and one that is unlike any other in Austen’s writing (for contrasts see Mr and Mrs Palmer in Sense and Sensibility or the Grants in Mansfield Park). In chapter 10 we see Mrs Croft “coolly taking the reigns” of the Croft’s carriage to prevent them from “running foul of a dung-cart” or hitting a post, and, as Anne notices herself, this is “no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs”. Mrs Croft takes an equal footing in looking over the documents that are necessary for the renting of Kellynch, and she “gives (the admiral) a hand” to move the abundance of looking-glasses from Sir Walter’s old dressing room. Few are the occasions when we see the Crofts apart from each other, even when the admiral is at sea Mrs Croft usually accompanies him, Mrs Croft declares that “nothing can exceed the accommodations of a man of war” while talking at the Musgroves’ gathering. The most interesting and, perhaps the strongest, indication of the Croft’s mutual attachment is the way that they address each other- Admiral Croft has no scruple with calling Mrs Croft “Sophy” in public, and Mrs Croft addresses her husband frequently as “my dear admiral”. The use of Christian names does not often occur in Persuasion, nor would it have occurred often in 19thCentury England; it is used in the novel as either a term of endearment (the Crofts) or patronisation (Elizabeth seems to be allowed to call Mrs Clay “Penelope”, while Mrs Clay can get away with no more than “Miss Elizabeth”).Compare this ideal relationship to other marriages in the novel: Mr and Mrs Elliot were “wretched together”; Mr and Mrs Smith were far from happy (more on this later); Mary and Charles bicker incessantly; Mr and Mrs Musgrove hardly have an equal say in their marriage (compare Mrs Musgrove’s excessive talking with the fact that Mr Musgrove says nothing at all in the entire novel). The latter of these are set against the Crofts beautifully in chapter 23:

“That is precisely what I was going to observe,” cried Mrs Croft, “I would rather have young people settle on a small income at once, and have to struggle with a few difficulties together, than be involved in a long engagement. I always think that no mutual-”

“Oh! Dear Mrs Croft,” cried Mrs Musgrove, unable to let her finish her speech, “there is nothing I so abominate for young people as a long engagement…”

Notice how Austen cleverly has Mrs Musgrove interrupt Mrs Croft on the word “mutual”; the Musgroves’ marriage is far from a “mutual” attachment, and this conversation serves to emphasise the discord of their marriage compared to that of Admiral and Mrs Croft.

Consider also the fact that the Crofts consider their relationship with the Elliots as “a mere matter of form” and one that is “not in the least likely to afford them any pleasure”. The Crofts are totally unconcerned with the “elegant stupidity” of the aristocratic characters; they concern themselves only with the people who they truly like. No calling cards or “give and take” invitations for the Crofts: the Admiral strolls through Bath greeting those whom he likes, and avoiding those he does not. This unconcern with form and “proper nothings” shows just how content the Crofts are with their situation in life; they live to make each other happy and to enjoy the time that they have while they are not at sea.

 

What’s most amazing about the Crofts is the fact that they seem to be even happier than Anne and Wentworth. After the gathering at the Great House in chapter 7, we are told that “There had been a time when… (Anne and Wentworth) would have found it most difficult to cease to speak to one another. With the exception, perhaps, of Admiral and Mrs Croft, who seemed particularly attached and happy… there could have been no two hearts so open.” (p59-60). Even at the height of their prior attachment, Anne and Wentworth’s love was not equal to that of the Crofts. The image of this perfect marriage, then, is what we may assume that, after the ending of the novel, the newlyweds will model their relationship on.

 

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Charles Hayter

Harriet Gillet offers this insight:

Hippo's insight:

I was just having a look at the significance of periphery characters in Persuasion. Thought you might want to scoop it.


An example of someone who has improved his position in his society through his intellect: like Benwick, Hayter is inferred by Austin to possess some of that admirable ‘elasticity of mind’ by his interest in books; he has ‘chosen to be a scholar and a gentleman, and who was very superior in cultivation and manners to all the rest’ of his family’s ‘inferior, retired, and unpolished way of living, and their own defective education.’[ch. 9]
He and Wentworth are both examples of self-made men who have been successful. However Charles is, to an extent, the antithesis of Wentworth: whilst Wentworth is described as having ‘no hopes of attaining affluence, but in the chances of a most uncertain profession, and no connexions… He had always been lucky; he knew that he should so still’ [ch. 4 p. 27] in contrast, Charles’s profession is the church, and therefore to get ahead he is:
1. Dependent on influential connections, to line him up for good positions
2. Dependent on the current occupants of those positions (eg. Dr. Shirley) getting old enough to need assistance or pass away.
SO. He’s on the way up, however his path is a slow and boring one: this can be juxtaposed with Wentworth’s exciting and prosperous career in the navy where he is seen to “get rich quick”.
It is interesting that upon returning to Uppercross ‘He had the pain of finding very altered manners, and of seeing Captain Wentworth’[ch. 9] from Henrietta- the connections to Anne and Wentworth’s relationship here; Austen’s mirroring the language used to depict Wentworth’s reaction to seeing Anne again; ‘You were so altered he should not have known you again’ [ch. 7] allows the parallels to emerge and be observed. 
Like Anne, who must develop as a character in order to progress towards a marriage with Wentworth, Henrietta physically has to complete the walk to Winthrop to be reunited with Charles.
Charles’ Jealousy of Wentworth, his refusal to talk to him child tormenting Anne with Wentworth by the window scene, can be seen as a foreshadowing of Wentworth’s jealousy of William Elliot.
In addition, Austen portrays him as a somewhat ineffectual young man in order to first expose that Wentworth still has some form of feeling for Anne. When Anne Elliot is having trouble with her nephew, Hayter only tells him to stop, with no result. It is Wentworth who lifts the child away. 

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Hippo's comment, April 27, 2013 2:18 AM
Some really interesting and detailed ideas here arising from thoughtful comparison of characters. Henrietta's and Hayter's marriage, it appears, will be happy - so a victory for persuasion on Louisa's behalf and Henrietta's lack of concern of Hayter's social position. Their "courtship" offers an interesting comparison to William and Anne, and Anne and Wentworth (and Louisa and Benwick - see Bertie's post.)
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If I knew only one quotation, it would be...

Post your top quotation with a brief explanation. I hope this will build a bank of quotations for you to learn.

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Hippo's comment, April 26, 2013 5:03 PM
Thanks, Jonny. A really important quotation. I've commented elsewhere that Mrs Smith's first marriage represents a union which was far from satisfactory, and therefore adds some weight to Lady Russell's "persuasion" of Anne not to marry Wentworth: marriage is a risk. I, too, feel that Sir Walter is more than a caricature. Yes, aspects of his character are highly amusing and hyperbolic, but he reneges the responsibilities of father and landowner and therefore is far from simply silly.
Hippo's comment, April 26, 2013 5:08 PM
But the Baronetage is his favourite book because of what it reflects (in his own mind) about him. He ignores death and the effect the open register has on Elizabeth as it is simply another mirror to his vanity
NurseRooke69's comment, April 29, 2013 4:04 AM
(Admiral Croft to Anne) '...ladies are the best judges...' Of course, the first questions that spring to mind are, ‘Are they?’ and ‘In what sense?’ This quotation has many implications for all of the female characters in the novel, in terms of whether (in Persuasion at least) women really are ‘the best judges.’ Anne's initial judgement of Wentworth is correct, in the sense that Wentworth does, I think, prove to be a 'remarkably fine young man'. However, Lady Russell's subsequent judgement is, while harsh, the prudent, sensible one to make, in terms of Anne’s future.
(It is almost as though Wentworth and Anne must be together ['Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough...'], but society's judgements and precedents [represented by Lady Russell] obstruct this necessary pairing. It is only after he has accrued the wealth and status that Regency society deems appropriate that Wentworth can move back into Anne’s ‘circle’.)
Further examples of good judgement can be seen in Lady Russell’s insistence that the Elliots ‘must retrench.’ She (like Mrs Croft) takes a very active role in the necessary paperwork, drawing up ‘plans of economy’ and making ‘exact calculations.’ Lady Russell, therefore, appears as a decisive, capable woman, able to make judgements (and one can assume that this is perhaps the role that Lady Elliot had prior to her death, ‘Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable…)
However, on further examination of Lady Elliot’s past, we can see that she was not the best judge (of character certainly) after all, ‘…whose judgement and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot…’ It is in Lady Elliot’s misjudgement of Sir Walter that Lady Russell’s judgement becomes all the more shrewd: she did not want Anne to make the same mistake as her mother. Lady Elliot is not the only one who found herself to be the victim of marital imprudence. Mrs Smith did not think ‘very seriously’ when she married at 19 (although, it should be noted, that it is William Elliot’s taking advantage of Charles, ‘who had the finest, most generous spirit in the world’, that is the ruin of her.) Thus, a distinction emerges. Lady Elliot married a man of ‘elegant stupidity’ and attained status and wealth. Mrs Smith married a man of good character, but his apparent lack of ‘good sense and observation’ left her a ‘a poor, infirm, helpless widow.’
The misjudgements of women (in Persuasion) therefore, are in the characters of men. Louisa does it too, assuming that Wentworth will catch her a second time on the Cobb. It is only with prudence, rationality and a measured control of the sentimental that romance can flourish (which is why I, to an extent, believe Tony Tanner’s ‘prudence to romance’ mantra to be a tad simplistic). It may take Anne eight years of ‘youth-killing dependence’ to finally be with Wentworth, but ‘eight years may be little more than nothing’ to Anne’s true (and considered) love. The same template can be seen in Louisa and Benwick’s romance: it is only by their spending time together that they come to love one another, ‘It (their romance) had been in situation. They had been thrown together several weeks.’ Of course, it is because Louisa and Benwick depend ‘almost entirely on each other’ that they fall in love, not because Louisa judges him to be the right man, but the point still stands. Austen (with her ‘elasticity of mind’) is advocating a mixture of prudence and romance, not a transition from on to the other. The impression we then receive is that Anne, having intuitively recognised Wentworth’s character, must then suffer for her supposed imprudence, yet, this suffering for prudence’ sake precipitates a love that is all the sweeter for their being able to return to ‘the tenderness of the past.
Of course, Mrs Musgrove and Mrs Croft deplore ‘a long engagement’, but Anne and Wentworth are not engaged for eight years, they are not connected at all. It is their rediscovery, their fusion of prudence and romance that serves to make their relationship one with ‘spirits dancing in private rapture.’ Austen, therefore, primarily illustrates women’s judgement via their relationships with men and, while many get it drastically wrong, Anne finds the right (if laborious) path.
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Nuts n' More! - Persuasion Part 2 | Jonny

The second of a two part special in which Jonny talks about Volume 2 of Jane Austen's 1818 novel, "Persuasion" Subscribe? http://www.youtube.com/subscription...
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Hippo's comment, April 25, 2013 4:08 PM
Lady Dalrymple a con artist? Please tell me there is some small hint of this!
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In defense of Persuasion

In defense of Persuasion | Austen's Persuasion | Scoop.it
Cross-posted to This Delightful Habit of Journaling So I guess it's kind of obvious that I'm burned out on Austen blogging, but that doesn't mean I'm not paying attention to what's going on in Jane...
Hippo's insight:

This is a response to the article already scooped - be Persuaded about the value lessons of Jane Austen. Which moments do you find the most amusing in the novel?

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Jonny Wiles's comment, April 28, 2013 3:22 PM
Lady Russell and the window-curtains!
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Initial Lyme Time

p91/2

Hippo's insight:

Angus Watt's insight

 

The party's arrival at Lyme contrasts drastically Anne's arrival at Camden Place because of the motivations of the owners and the contents of the houses themselves. Sir Walter and Elizabeth invite Anne "for the sake of shewing her the house and furniture" while Harville invites "from the heart". The Elliot's  apartment, from the perspective of Sir Walter "was undoubtedly the best in Camden Place" owing to amongst other things "the taste of the furniture" whereas Harville "fashioned pretty little shelves." Benwick has "a mind of usefulness and ingenuity [which]  seemd to furnish him with constant employment within. Sir Walter Elliot is idle in comparison.

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Hippo's comment, April 25, 2013 8:49 AM
I like the irony of Elizabeth proudly showing (shewing) the size of the apartment at Camden Place. Not only does it show her preoccupation with how places indicate place in society, the apartment is tiny compared to Kellynch. But, like her father and his mirrors, Elizabeth sees what she wants to see - her own value and worth reflected in a fashionable address in Bath. The signifcance of the contrasting cramped quarters on ships and at Harville's house should not be lost on you.
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Wentworth's nut

p81

Hippo's insight:

(Lizzie Cossor's insight)

Wentworth uses a decription of a nut which has "outlived all the storms of autumn" (p81) to illustrate what he values in women. It is ironic that he is so determined that women should be strong minded yet when Louisa falls (cracks her nut) he is forced to recognise that the one who yielded to persuasion (Anne) is the only one of the party who can be relied upon in a crisis and his naval capacity is no help to him at all.

Wentworth describes the nut as as possessing "not a puncture, not a weak spot anywhere" which reflects the image of himself which he projects; however his "weak spot" is Anne as he "cannot be unfeeling" towards her and acts on impulse, and untimately he is driven by his emotions.

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Hippo's comment, April 25, 2013 8:48 AM
Anne is in a position to hear Wentworth's allegory of the nut. She clearly understands the significance in light of her age and perceived inconstancy.
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Mrs Smith's happiness. (p 235)

Mrs Smith's happiness

Hippo's insight:

The close of the novel reflects on the source of Mrs Smith's happiness. She has (at last) obtained the money from her husband's estate and is feeling better. However, the narrator reveals that it is neither improvement of health nor the money which is the source of her happiness but "the glow of her spirits" because of Anne's happiness and Mrs Smith's "mental alacrity".

 

The narrator ironically suggests that wealth and health actually "spoils" happiness - and even if Mrs Smith were even richer, she would still manage to be happy.

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Andrea McDougall's comment, April 25, 2013 5:12 PM
the ten facts about Mrs Smith!
Andrea McDougall's comment, April 25, 2013 5:12 PM
Mrs Smith...
1. Kind to Anne when her mother died and Anne is kind to her. Compare this with the Darlyrymples and with Mr Elliot
2. Mrs Smith made a hasty marriage and so represents someone who took a risk and suffered
3. look at pages 147-148 of her judgements on the nurse who is intelligent and Mrs Wallace who is silly and unintelligent
4. Although Mrs Smith is poor she knits for charity
5. Mrs Smith listens and respects Nurse Rook
6. Mrs Smith is a victim of Mr Elliot's selfishness
7. She also knows the truth of his character
8. She went to bath due to an illness and not for social reasons
9. Smith is a very common name
10. BUT while she does not like him she accepts that her friend will marry Elliot and sees it as an advantage to her. This shows the importance of that particular marriage. Also shows how much Anne loves Wentworth, her independence and how radical and risky Wentworth is.
Hippo's comment, April 26, 2013 3:04 AM
Thanks, Andrea. A good quotation: "Westgate Buildings!" said he; "and who is Miss Anne Elliot to be visiting in Westgate Buildings? A Mrs. Smith. A widow Mrs. Smith; and who was her husband? One of the five thousand Mr. Smiths whose names are to be met with everywhere. And what is her attraction? That she is old and sickly. Upon my word, Miss Anne Elliot, you have the most extraordinary taste! Everything that revolts other people -- low company, paltry rooms, foul air, disgusting associations -- are inviting to you. But surely you may put off this old lady till to-morrow: she is not so near her end, I presume, but that she may hope to see another day. What is her age? Forty?"
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Be Persuaded About the Lessons of Jane Austen - Valley News

Be Persuaded About the Lessons of Jane Austen - Valley News | Austen's Persuasion | Scoop.it
Be Persuaded About the Lessons of Jane Austen Valley News Why do so many of Jane Austen's smartest readers consider her weakest novel to be her best?
Hippo's insight:
Another web article suggesting Persuasion a more sentimental novel than P&P. Broad links across Austen's novels.
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Hippo's comment, April 25, 2013 3:57 PM
See another scoop "In defense of Persuasion" (sic) for a reply