Week 12: Persuasion


Per-sua-sion: noun – the action or fact of persuading someone or of being persuaded to do or believe something.

Jane Austen has written many epic love stories; Pride and Prejudice with the Bennett sisters and the dreamy Mr. Darcy, and Sense and Sensibility with the patient Eleanor to name just a couple.

Of course…Elizabeth and Darcy will always hold a special place in this anglophile’s romantic heart – however, the love story that can hold itself equal to P&P is Austen’s Persuasion.

Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Young lovers separated by the act of ‘persuasion’ – the impressionable Anne Elliot was persuaded by a close friend that she shouldn’t marry Frederick Wentworth due to his low class and lack of income.

Eight years later fortunes have been reversed. The Elliot family is close to destitute, having to lease their family estate and move to smaller lodgings in Bath. The poor Wentworth has become a war hero in the Royal Navy and is now recognized as a wealthy gentleman.

Throughout the novel Anne experiences the hardships of “what might have been…” as Wentworth reenters her life. The older Wentworth is not the lighthearted and carefree young boy that Anne first fell in love with – he is jaded and disparaging of a “woman’s constancy” in matters of the heart.

Like all of Austen’s novels Persuasion is full of memorable characters: the selfish sisters, the arrogant father, the scheming widow, and the close and constant friends that surround both Anne and Wentworth make rereading this classic a delightful experience every time I pick it off my bookshelf.

“I can listen no longer in silence…You pierce my soul. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.”

The language of Austen is “old school” to say the least…but I find that aspect the most charming. The manners of ladies and gentleman alike when writing and speaking to each other during the Regency period in England is poetic and made for the classical love stories that Austen weaves for the reader.

If you’re feeling more in the cinematic mode – there are many adaptations of Persuasion. My personal favorite is the ‘newest’ 2007 adaptation film made by the BBC starring Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth and Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot.

I feel that any of Jane Austen novels are infinitely rereadable.

Except for Mansfield Park. But perhaps that’s a whole other post for a later date.