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?