Persuasion
Jane Austen

by contributor

Nina Calhoun

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Overview
Author
Jane Austen
Year Published
1817
Type
Fiction
Genre
Novel
About the Title

“Persuasion” like many of Jane Austen’s novels starts by introducing a family and character, in this case the Elliots and Sir Walter Elliot, before pushing them into a complex web of romantic pretenses or class-fueled disagreements. Sir Walter Elliot, a widower, must deal with the complexities associated with providing for his three daughters: Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary. While the Elliots are considered a distinguished, land-owning family, when the reader engages and ruminates over Sir Walter Elliot’s disposition towards money, his vanity and provinciality manifest. This creates a sense of hypocrisy and irony, as vanity erodes or contradicts the dignity associated with Sir Walter Elliot’s own sense of class identity. For instance, he balks at the suggestion of his advisor, Lady Russell, who suggests that he spend less to preserve the family’s estate, and he further judges the character of Admiral and Mrs. Croft - two of their new tenants - on the basis of the Admiral’s service in the Navy. To be clear, his judgment of the couple is one of skepticism because he believes that the Navy plays a role in elevating “men of obscure birth into undue distinction.” In this manner, class politics along with personal, familial, and romantic interests play an important role in the rising action and climatic resolutions in “Persuasion.”

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