Review: “Persuasion” by Jane Austen

For the love of books

What can one say about a classic like Persuasion?  Jane Austen is as outspoken as ever in her opinions and her witty critique of society, its mannerisms, and even the British navy.

Anne Elliot is the opposite of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by being meek and never standing up to her father’s embarrassing and conceited behavior, her sister’s coldness, or Lady Russell’s ideas of importance.  In the tradition of Austen’s heroines, she is intelligent, a good judge of character, and aware of her own desires in regards to marriage and love.  Captain Wentworth is an equal of Mr. Darcy, proud and unforgiving until he realizes how much he loves Anne in spite of her past rejection of his proposal.  Just like Mrs. Bennet, Anne’s younger sister Mary is a hypochondriac who selfishly thinks of her pleasure and it is mostly her statements that provide any humor in this quite serious novel.  In fact, it is amazing that in the midst of her family’s insanity, Anne has inherited her late mother’s good sense and her ability to love unselfishly.

While the romantic story starts in media res and does not truly develop before the reader like in other novels by Austen, Persuasion is more a story of how love can strengthen over time and endure all hardships, even overwhelming persuasion.  Mr. Elliot, however, is a reflection of all Austen’s villains, only being more deceptive in his pretentious good manners.  One can be sympathetic towards Anne’s demure character that has never experienced love or kindness from her blood relatives, only to be torn away from her true love later on account of wealth and position and barely expect any reunion in the future.

The content of Persuasion not only adheres to the topic indicated in its respective title but also evaluates the restrictions of nineteenth century society and the manipulation of connections in a detailed and uncharacteristically dated narrative.  Although Persuasion is less charismatic than its predecessors, it is a romance about life’s second chances and the simultaneously dangerous, impressive art of persuasion.

Original review: Prepare to be persuaded by Jane Austen, Examiner.com

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