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Passion and Prudence: The Characterization of Anne Elliot in Persuasion

“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she discovered romance as she grew older–the organic sequel of an unnatural starting.” With these words, Jane Austen crystallizes 1 of the central inquiries of her novel Persuasion–whether it is much better to be strong-willed or easily persuadable. Persuasion differs from other Austen novels since of its a lot more somber tone and its far more insightful evaluation of trends in Victorian society. The most distinctive aspect of Persuasion, however, is the character of its heroine, Anne Elliot, a woman “silent but complete of thought, persuadable yet steady, a model of self-composure but glowing with emotions” (Muller 20). Certainly, throughout the novel, Austen uses description, dialogue, inner thought, and foils to reveal Anne’s character and to explore the themes of persuasion, constancy in love and gender roles.

To begin with, Austen utilizes description to portray Anne Elliot’s character and to delve into the novel’s themes. In chapter 2, for instance, the narrator describes Anne’s response to the Elliot family’s economic troubles. “She wanted a lot more vigorous measures, a a lot more complete reformation….a much higher tone of indifference for almost everything but justice and equity” (Austen 13). This detail about Anne illustrates her keen thoughts, great sense and scrupulous beliefs, qualities that contrast with the extravagance and pride of Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot, who both argue that any reduction in expenses would cast their loved ones name into disrepute (Austen 11). In addition, the really fact that Lady Russell chose to seek advice from Anne as an alternative of Elizabeth about the loved ones budget indicates her belief in Anne’s a lot more prudent character. This detail about Anne also draws forth a comparison in between her and the deceased Lady Elliot, a woman of great “method, moderation, and economy” (Austen ten). Certainly, “it was only in Anne that [Lady Russell] could fancy the mother to revive again” (Austen 7). Just as Elizabeth shares her father’s arrogance and vanity, Anne has inherited her mother’s frugality and sensibility. Not only does this portrayal of Anne reveal a lot about her character, but it also introduces the novel’s central theme: the superiority of a firm but prudent character more than an obstinate or weak-willed 1. One particular wonders whether the Elliot family members may well have been able to stay in Kellynch Hall if Sir Walter had only followed Anne’s advice. Even this early in the novel, Austen has already begun to showcase Anne’s sensible character and to communicate the superiority of prudence over willfulness.

Prudence, even so, does not preclude a healthful firmness of character. For instance, right after telling the reader of Anne’s broken engagement with Captain Wentworth, the narrator describes how Anne, now 27, thinks “very differently from what she had been made to consider at nineteen,” for she now deeply regrets her choice and her encounter of being “forced into prudence” (Austen 29). By way of this description, the reader learns that Anne has become much more independent-minded doubtless, she nonetheless treasures the counsel of Lady Russell, but she has also created her personal point of view on really like and life– she “learned romance as she grew older” (Austen 29). Besides providing insight into Anne’s character, this detail additional develops the theme of persuasion. “Forced” includes the damaging connotation of coercion, an indication of the damaging consequences that can result from persuasion. Anne’s sorrow over her estrangement from Wentworth also indicates the dangers of being as well easily persuaded. Right after all, if Anne had kept her engagement with Wentworth, she would have spared herself numerous hours of heartbreak. Austen therefore communicates that prudence and firmness of character need to come hand in hand.

Later on in the story, the author continues to use description to characterize Anne Elliot. For instance, when Mrs. Croft mentions anything about one Mr. Wentworth, Anne can not restrain her outburst of feeling. “Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing but the age of emotion she certainly had not” (Austen 46). By describing Anne’s emotions here, the narrator indicates that Anne still has strong, probably unacknowledged, feelings for Captain Wentworth. In reality, in spite of eight years of separation and silence, Anne has remained unflagging in her devotion to Wentworth, and this facet of her character conveys an additional of the novel’s themes, namely the worth of remaining continual in adore. Austen holds up Anne as an example of how correct really like must remain steadfast by means of the longest and sharpest of trials. Moreover, this snippet about Anne reveals her tendency to have intense feelings, especially when close to Wentworth. She blushes when she hears his name, experiences “a thousand feelings” when she initial meets him, and appears ill from her “overpowering happiness” after their reconciliation (Austen 25, 56, 223). As Robyn Warhol states, “love really literally hurts in Persuasion” (quoted Muller 23). In truth, Anne Elliot’s acute feelings set her apart from other Austen heroines, “reminding us rather of Charlotte Bronte than of Jane Austen” (Muller 24). In Pride and Prejudice, for example, Elizabeth Bennet in no way appears to express her happiness, but merely acknowledges that she ought to be content since of her fiance’s wealth. Likewise, the protagonist of Emma lacks Anne’s emotional depth. Austen could have invested Anne with this intense emotion to subtly counter the restrictions of her day, those Victorian concepts that delegated women to the domestic sphere and restricted how a lot emotion or sexual feelings a lady could express (Cenicola and Mareike 1). Persuasion was the only one particular of Austen’s novels set in the contemporaneous present, and therefore Austen could have created Anne Elliot–this graceful mixture of classic femininity and unconventional emotion– to challenge Victorian notions of the perfect woman. Hence, Austen uses this detail about Anne’s feelings, and numerous other descriptions, to highlight different facets of Anne’s character and to discover the novel’s themes.

In addition to description, the author employs dialogue to flesh out Anne’s character and to accentuate the story’s themes. In fact, in the first couple of chapters, what is most striking about dialogue with Anne is its absence. In the initial 3 chapters, Anne utters only a couple of snippets of dialogue, although her father speaks profusely about Kellynch-hall and the navy. This silence partly stems from Anne’s subordinate position as an unmarried, middle daughter, but it also reveals Anne’s quiet, introspective character. All through the novel, Anne requires the position of an observer, and the reader hears considerably much more of her thoughts than her words. When she does speak, however, her words bear excellent meaning. For instance, close to the end of the novel, Anne and Captain Harville discuss Captain Benwick’s recent engagement to Louisa Musgrove, in the course of which Anne tells Harville that ladies have much more faithfulness in really like than guys. “We definitely do not neglect you, so quickly as you overlook us,” she says (Austen 218). She then contrasts how girls “live at home, quiet, confined,” with how males strive to succeed in the rough-and-tumble planet of specialist operate (Ibid). This conversation highlights Anne’s intelligence and capability to believe for herself. In addition, it clearly communicates her constancy in enjoy, so significantly so that this exchange “pierces” the soul of Wentworth (Austen 222). A lot more importantly, it also pierces the reader with a conviction of the require to stay steadfast in adore regardless of the vicissitudes of life. In addition to the theme of loyalty in enjoy, Austen also raises the theme of gender roles. Anne’s delineation of differing gender roles reflects the Victorian emphasis on separate spheres for guys and females according to this “cult of domesticity,” ladies were expected to be very good housewives and mothers, and their status depended on marriage. These separate spheres are manifested in the dissimilar paths that Wentworth and Anne take after breaking their initial engagement: Wentworth moves on to achieve great wealth and status in the navy, while Anne becomes a faded spinstress who has past her prime. Evidently, via this contrast and via Anne’s conversation with Harville, Austen seeks to show the complete consequences of the separate spheres notion, portraying the restricted possibilities ladies faced. Even though Austen was no feminist, she does seem to encourage greater equality of opportunity and experience among the sexes. Austen’s perfect couple would be some thing comparable to the Crofts, exactly where the wife still defers to the husband, but also accompanies her partner in his profession and travels outdoors the house. Therefore, Austen’s use of dialogue in this case not only reveals a lot more of Anne’s character but also develops the themes of constancy in really like and equality in between the sexes.

Austen also makes use of dialogue among Anne and Wentworth to reveal more of Anne’s character and to impart greater nuance to the theme of persuasion. Following Wentworth’s letter of reconciliation, Anne and Wentworth pour out their feelings and discuss the events that have occurred more than the course of the novel. “If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once,” Anne says, referring to her decision to break the original engagement, “remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety” (Austen 229). Likewise, in the course of the card-celebration later that day, Anne tells Wentworth of her conclusion that, soon after all, it was proper to submit to Lady Russell’s advice about the engagement, for she would have suffered in her conscience if she had accomplished otherwise (Austen 231). Not only do these words reveal Anne’s sturdy sense of duty–an unwavering commitment to honor her elders and submit to authority–but they also show her sensibility, for even now, despite becoming swelled by Wentworth’s passionate adore, she continues to preserve a cool head. Austen also utilizes this dialogue to expand the theme of persuasion. By making use of Anne’s affordable and credible voice, Austen communicates the worth of pursuing moderation more than obstinacy and prudence more than unrestrained passion. Certainly, Austen does not justify Lady Russell’s advice–Anne herself admits that she would not give such advice to a younger woman (Austen 231). Neither does she market a wishy-washy attitude that easily succumbs to persuasion. But Austen does appear to worth Anne’s responsibility to her elders, her loyalty to her buddies, and in the end, her sagacity in producing decisions. Hence, in this dialogue amongst Anne and Wentworth, the author illuminates Anne’s character and indicates that prudence of thoughts should ever accompany firmness of character.

Description and dialogue reveal significantly about the novel’s protagonist, but possibly the most critical tool Austen utilizes to characterize Anne is inner thought. In allowing the reader to enter the recesses of Anne’s mind, the author enables the audience to understand the full extent of her devotion to Wentworth. For instance, after Mr. Shepard briefly mentions Captain Wentworth, Anne rushes outside and thinks, “A few months more, and he, maybe, may be walking here” (Austen 25). This instance clearly shows that Anne still treasures Wentworth in her heart. Such devotion is downright extraordinary if one particular considers that eight years have passed since Anne last saw Wentworth, eight years of silence and separation, eight years of ignorance about regardless of whether he was dead or alive or married. In light of this, one particular can't but marvel at Anne’s faithfulness in adore. By making use of these inner thoughts to portray Anne as a woman of fantastic loyalty and passionate adore, Austen seeks to promote higher constancy in enjoy.

In addition, Anne’s inner thoughts reveal her exceptional perceptiveness. Concerning Captain Benwick’s mourning more than his deceased wife, for example, Anne says to herself that he will quickly “rally again, and be pleased with another” (Austen 91). This prediction soon comes accurate, for Benwick rapidly becomes engaged to Louisa Musgrove. Anne’s clear-sighted thoughts also appear in her observation of Mr. Elliot. In contrast to Lady Russell’s wonderful admiration for Mr. Elliot, Anne has a premonition of his shiftiness. She feels that he is merely as well polished, also discreet, perhaps too keen on hiding his correct past (Austen 151). These feelings are at some point validated by Mrs. Smith’s revelation of Mr. Elliot’s cold-heartedness, lust for wealth, and blackness of heart (Austen 187). Each of these examples convey Anne’s perceptiveness. In contrast to Lady Russell, whose judgment is frequently “blinded” by outward appearances of wealth, or Sir Walter, who scarcely sees something pass the tip of his beautiful nose, Anne alone judges individuals for their correct worth– Anne alone sees clearly (Austen 12, 231). Consequently, she escapes from the irony of self-deception that numerous other Austen heroines expertise. Apart from establishing Anne’s perceptive character, these judgments make sure Anne’s credibility as an accurate commentator on the novel’s events, permitting readers to enter the story via her uncompromising gaze. This credibility tends to make Anne an efficient automobile for the author to express her own views indeed, the line in between Anne’s thoughts and the author’s commentary often blurs. For example, Anne’s thoughts throughout the aftermath of Louisa’s injury seems to reflect Austen’s personal point of view: “Perhaps a persuadable temper may possibly sometimes be as much in favour of happiness, as a extremely resolute character” (Austen 108). The accuracy of Anne’s judgments indicate that her perspective closely aligns with that of the author, and therefore a single can conclude that Anne’s statement faithfully reflects the author’s own views on persuasion. Right here, Austen clearly voices her belief that individuals need to remain open to the suggestions of other people, not too weak-willed to think for themselves, but not so stubborn as to disregard all counsel. Hence, by means of the use of inner believed, Austen both portrays Anne’s perceptive character and additional develops the theme of persuasion.

The final tool Austen uses to develop Anne’s identity entails foils, folks that contrast with Anne and serve to accentuate her character qualities. In the early element of the novel, Mary acts as a foil to her sister, highlighting Anne’s sensibility and kindness by means of her personal childish attitude. For instance, when Anne initial arrives in Uppercross, Mary feigns illness in order to get more sympathy. Immediately, the conversation in between Anne and Mary becomes entirely a single-sided, with Mary moaning more than her woes and monopolizing the attention. In reality, even even though Anne has just moved from her childhood house, Mary barely mentions the modify, instead picking to concentrate solely on the particulars of life at Uppercross. This selfish attitude contrasts vividly with Anne’s personal willingness to listen and express her concern for other people. Anne’s empathy leads her to become the confidant of Charles, Mary and even the Miss Musgroves, as she strives to “listen patiently, soften every single grievance, and excuse each to the other” (Austen 44). In addition to highlighting Anne’s empathy, Mary serves as a foil to accentuate her sister’s prudence. For example, right after tiny Charles Musgrove’s injury, Anne swiftly rises to the require, undertaking almost everything at once–calling the medical doctor, attending to the youngsters, and comforting the hysterical mother (Austen 50). Although Mary collapses in anxiousness, Anne shows excellent sense and a calm thoughts. By contrasting Mary and Anne’s responses to this mini crisis, Austen clearly illustrates Anne’s prudent qualities. As a result, Austen continues to demonstrate the value of a sensible mind, expanding the central notion that prudence need to always balance firmness of character. In the identical way, Louisa serves as an additional foil to Anne. Outgoing, lively and typically foolhardy, Louisa Musgrove is the antithesis of Anne Elliot, as illustrated by her injury at Lyme. Heedless of Wentworth’s warnings, Louisa jumps recklessly off the terrace, only to fall unconscious onto the pavement. Wentworth and the rest of the group are stunned into inaction, but Anne immediately requires control, summoning the surgeon and prompting everybody into a flurry of activity (Austen 102). Certainly, everybody “seemed to appear to her for directions,” and even Wentworth admits that there was “no a single so correct, so capable as Anne” (Austen 103, 106). Here, Anne’s sensibility contrasts with Louisa’s impetuosity Louisa’s daredevil attitude shatters the day’s happiness, but Anne’s very good sense restores it. Beyond establishing Anne’s character, however, Austen uses Louisa’s injury to cast a shadow on the supposed value of stubbornness. Prior to Louisa jumps, she says “‘I am determined I will,’” indicating that her injury directly resulted from her unwillingness to heed sensible suggestions. Anne herself concludes from this episode that firmness of character “should have its proportions and limits” (Austen 108). Thus, by illustrating how stubbornness can lead to dangerous consequences, Austen demonstrates that firmness of character must be tempered by prudence. Foils clearly serve as an important way for Austen to reveal Anne’s character and create the novel’s themes.

In quick, through description, dialogue, inner thought and foils, Austen illuminates Anne’s character and explores the themes of persuasion, constancy in really like, and gender roles. Certainly, Anne’s special character qualities set Persuasion apart from other Austen novels, for unlike the “teenage immaturity” of Emma Woodhouse or the “arch and self-complacent” perspective of Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot feels intense, desperate feelings and also holds a clear-sighted view on events (Muller 24, 21). In Anne, Austen has created a character steadfast but persuadable, impassioned but level-headed, standard in her femininity but modern day in her emotions–a character so convincing as a flesh-and-blood person and yet so effective as a car for the novel’s themes. Few other writers have accomplished such a feat.

Works Cited:

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Penguin Books, 1998.

Muller, Claire. “Intellectual Qualities, Emotions and the Physique: An Analysis of Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.” Contributions to the Study of Language, Literature and Culture. Volume 2010:1, pp 19-29.

Cenicola, Laura and Mareike Aumann. “Introduction to Victorian Morality: What specifically was the Victorian Era?” Laura-Cenicola, http://www.laura-cenicola.de/brithist2/brithist/8-1-introduction-into-victorian-morality-what-specifically-was-the-victorian-era.html. Accessed 14 December 2016.
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