From Our Editors
Austen's last novel is the crowning achievement of her matchless career. Her heroine, Anne Elliot, a woman of integrity, breeding and great depth of emotion, stands in stark contrast to the brutality and hypocrisy of Regency England. Includes a new Introduction by Margaret Drabble, famed novelist and editor of The Oxford Companion to the English Language.
From the Publisher
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Of all Jane Austen's great and delightful novels,
Persuasion is widely regarded as the most moving. It is
the story of a second chance.
Anne Elliot, daughter of the snobbish, spendthrift Sir Walter
Elliot, is a woman of quiet charm and deep feelings. When she was
nineteen, she fell in love with-and was engaged to-a naval officer,
the fearless and headstrong Captain Wentworth. But the young man
had no fortune, and Anne allowed herself to be persuaded, against
her profoundest instinct, to give him up.Now, at twenty-seven, and
believing that she has lost her bloom, Anne is startled to learn
that Captain Wentworth has returned to the neighborhood, a rich man
and still unwed. Her never-diminished love is muffled by her pride.
He seems cold and unforgiving. Even worse, he appears to be
infatuated by the flighty and pretty Louisa Musgrove.
What happens as Anne and Wentworth are thrown together in the
social world of Bath-and as an eager new suitor appears for Anne-is
touchingly and wittily told in a masterpiece that is also one of
the most entrancing novels in the English language.
About the Author
Jane Austen's life is striking for the contrast between the great works she wrote in secret and the outward appearance of being quite dull and ordinary. Austen was born in the small English town of Steventon in Hampshire, and educated at home by her clergyman father. She was deeply devoted to her family. For a short time, the Austens lived in the resort city of Bath, but when her father died, they returned to Steventon, where Austen lived until her death at the age of 41. Austen was drawn to literature early, she began writing novels that satirized both the writers and the manners of the 1790's. Her sharp sense of humor and keen eye for the ridiculous in human behavior gave her works lasting appeal. She is at her best in such books as Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1816), in which she examines and often ridicules the behavior of small groups of middle-class characters. Austen relies heavily on conversations among her characters to reveal their personalities, and at times her novels read almost like plays. Several of them have, in fact, been made into films.
1. Lady Russell persuades Anne to break off her engagement to
"youth-killing dependence." Does she ultimately succeed in
sheltering Anne from this?
2. Persuasion is the aim of rhetoric, yet in this book it often
hinders lives and harms feelings. What is Austen commenting on?
Consider what happens when Lady Russell or Mrs. Clay persuade
others as opposed to what happens when Anne persuades others.
3. Look at how Anne's feelings and perceptions are shown-never
through her direct words or thoughts but through an approximate
report of these through a distant narrator. What does Austen
accomplish by doing this?
4. Consider how sailors such as Wentworth and Admiral Croft have
made their fortunes-by capturing enemy ships and enjoying the
spoils. With their newfound wealth, they re-join English society in
higher social standings. What is Austen's opinion of this? In what
ways and situations does she relay this opinion?
5. Many of Austen's earlier works take place in the spring, but
this story plays out in autumn. Very often, the characters and
narrator notice the colorful leaves and cool air around them. How
does the season promote this story?
6. The narrator describes the Christmas scene at the Musgroves'
as a "fine-family piece." What is Austen implying with her sarcasm?
Do you think she is antifamily?
7. Admiral and Mrs. Croft have the most successful and loving
relationship in the novel, even though they are unromantic,
eccentric, and deeply rooted in realism. Yet many of the idyllic
lovers look to their marriage as a model. What is Austen commenting
upon with this ironic reversal?
8. Mr. Elliot is the catalyst for the reunion of Anne and
Captain Wentworth, provoking jealousy in Wentworth, which in turn
prompts him to reconsider his love for Anne. However, Austen
chooses not merely to make Mr. Elliot Anne's unwanted lover but
instead to reveal him as a rich and immoral scoundrel, to be cast
out of the story. What does Austen accomplish by doing this? What
is she saying about the world of property and rank?
9. Compare the original ending chapters and the "real" ending
chapters. Why did Austen make these changes? What did she
accomplish with them?