Classics: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Hi, friends. Today’s classic reflects Victorian moral realism literature in its early stages, as it was published in the beginning of the 1800’s (Victorian era is mid-1800’s to 1900). 

Persuasion by Jane Austen

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Persuasion is a love story with an ending that becomes harder to predict as the tale unfolds. Readers are initially introduced to the vain Sir Walter Elliot, a rich baronet with three daughters named Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary. Unlike her father, Anne (the protagonist) is thoughtful, meek, and responsible. Due to Sir Walter’s frivolity, the family faces financial struggles, so they must move away and rent out their homestead. Though Elizabeth and Sir Walter leave, Anne’s other sister Mary (who is married to Charles Musgrove and lives nearby) asks Anne to stay with her for a couple months (because she’s a high-maintenance hypochondriac). Meanwhile, Admiral Croft and Mrs. Croft become the new tenants at the Elliots’ homestead; Anne soon learns that Mrs. Croft is coincidentally the sister of Captain Wentworth, a man whom Anne “dated” and nearly married several years beforehand at age 21. The Crofts befriend the Musgroves, and Anne eventually encounters Captain Wentworth, but he barely recognizes her. He begins flirting with the Musgrove sisters, and Anne accepts that she missed her chance to be with him the first time. As events unfold, a serious accident changes everyone’s fates. Anne meets a few potential mates–Captain Wentworth, Captain Benwick, her cousin Mr. Elliot. Though it seemed certain that Anne would find love, I was unsure who would sweep her off her feet by the end.

Additional Details

jane
Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s brother, Henry Austen, published this novel after Austen’s death. Persuasion is the last novel she finished.

Austen’s inspiration for the naval characters, like the Captains and Admiral Croft, likely derived from her brother, Charles Austen, who was a Royal Navy officer.

The novel has been used a couple times for made-for-TV film adaptations.

Austen was a meticulous editor, a fact verified by similar but slightly different hand-written drafts.

Allegedly, Austen always referred to the work as The Elliots while alive.

Thanks for reading! Are you a huge Austen fan? This is my first one…(don’t tell anyone)

21 comments

  1. Ooh, I think this is my favourite Jane Austen novel. Well, I say novel, but I only watch the Tv adaptations, which I am sure are very different. Have you seen one of the adaptations of this story? There are two – one is boring (because the hero isn’t handsome and I remember him playing a Russian president in The Sum Of all Fears) and the other is fab because Rupert Penry Jones is the hero – say no more 😉 But seriously, I prefer the Actress Sally Jones too. If you’ve seen any, how does the Tv version compare to the book?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I REALLY want to get into Austen…but haven’t been able to so far. Currently, the first novel I tried to read of hers is Emma, and many people have told me it is one of her harder works. I’ve also have been suggested by at least two people, if not three, that with Austen, they do recommend watching a movie adaption first, and to read Pride and Prejudice, or another work aside from Emma.

    But it makes me feel odd that in order to “understand” her work, I need to watch a movie. I know Mark Twain was not a fan of Austen, and I feel like I’m starting to see why. I do believe she was completely talented, but I think conversations between characters, at least with Emma, is drawn out and tedious. Which is a big turn off to me as a reader.

    Thanks for sharing about her last novel!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I disagree that there is any need to see a movie adaption first, indeed, although entertaining, I would say that the tv-series miss much of what makes Austen special. To me much of the beauty of her novels lies in her sharp writing and in the way her character’s selfimpression and words differs from their actual actions, something she often use for comic effect. However, it can indeeds be easy to miss her subtle comedy so it can take a few reads to adjust. Emma is indeed one of her hardest works, I would recommend starting with Pride and Predjudice or Northanger Abbey instead. Northanger Abbey is her first real novel and thus less polished than her later works. Storywise it is perhaps not her best but the comedy is less hidden than in her other works and I find it a lot of fun. It helps to have a basic understanding of gothic novels as that’s the genre she is lightly mocking in this one. P&P on the other hand is one of her most popular works for a reason. It is a much more polished novel, with a witty and likable main charcter and tight plot.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. P&P is also a good starting point and more of a must read than Northanger Abbey. So if you are not sure that you’ll get through all her novels it does make sense to continue with her most famous one.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I chose Persuasion to experiment with first to see how her writing style was. I’ve noticed that she and Daniel Defoe, who both wrote in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s, have a similar writing style–the language is technically understandable, but the format is tedious because every paragraph is one long, winding sentence. I’m not sure how I would feel about one of Austen’s longer works. I can’t speak on the adaptation thing, though, because I’ve never seen one. I didn’t find Persuasion hard to follow after the first couple chapters.

      Writers from the mid to late 1800’s like the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens are easier to understand because the language is still sophisticated, but the sentence structure is more modern. One of my favorite authors lately, though, wrote in the early 1900’s–Edith Wharton. She imitates the Victorian style but, since she’s American, the language is close to modern.

      Thanks for reading, T.R.!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree about the Bronte sisters, though I enjoy Jane Eyre, the convo she has with the main character, at the beginning when she meets him, reminded me of Austen. I LOVE Dickens. His Oliver Twist blew me away, and I was shocked at the violence. I may have to look up Edith’s work. Thanks for the suggestion!

        Liked by 1 person

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