Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Questions for Friday (Persuasion)

For Friday: Questions for Persuasion: Chs. 1-26 (pp.3-100)

Answer ONE of the following…

1.         In Persuasion, we see Jane Austen at the end of her career (though she probably didn’t know this), and very much in a new century—the eighteen teens.  This was just before the publication of Frankenstein but well after Wordsworth and Coleridge’s major poems, as well as the works of Shelley and Byron.  How do we see Persuasion influenced by the Romantic movement in British literature?  What new touches in the work signal a ‘Romantic’ sensibility unusual in Austen’s writing?  Consider not only what the narrator focuses on/describes, but what the characters say, read, and expound to others. 

2.         In a very amusing and fantastic passage on page 27, the narrator describes the Musgrove’s house which is being invaded by a harp and a piano-forte (an old style piano—piano means “soft” and forte means “loud”).  The old-fashioned demeanor of the house is offended, as she writes, “Oh! Could the originals of the portraits against the wainscot, could the gentlemen in brown velvet and the ladies in blue satin have seen what was going on, have been conscious of such an overthrow of all order and neatness!  The portraits themselves seemed to be staring in astonishment.  As this passage suggests, much of the goings-on of Persuasion would shock and astonish the old order.  Where do we see Jane Austen pitting the new world against the old?  What innovations and ideas seem quite at odds with the more traditional, class-based ways of running the world?

3.         Discuss the education of women in this novel so far, considering characters such as Anne Eliot, Mary Eliot, the Musgrove sisters, and Mrs. Croft in particular.  What does it mean to be ‘educated’ as we move into the 19th century?  Are any of these women ‘ideals’ for Austen?  Or anti-ideals?  Does Anne share some of Lizzie and Emma’s lack of moral insight and judgment?  Does her education allow her to game play?  Or has she retired from the game already? 

4.         How does Persuasion develop Austen’s theme of mothers and fathers?  We get an usual set of parents in this book, from Sir Walter Eliot, Lady Russell (a surrogate mother, though perhaps more properly an aunt figure), and the two generations of Musgroves.  How does Austen reflect on the duties and sensibilities of parents, and their relationships with their children?  Note that this is the only book thus far that actually has young children in it!  Why do you think Austen focuses so much on the younger generation in this book? 


  1. In persuasion we have two types of women, we have silly finishing school women and then we have basically Ann. The Musgrove sisters are super childish and educated only for the marriage market. They went to finishing school, the know the harp and the piano. They use these skills to be showy. I picture their love life's turning out in the same way as Lydia Bennett.
    Mary is a frivolous with money and also vain. Despite her marriage she is still within the marriage game. She was not educated for much else but one would have hoped that once marriage happened that she would have grown out off the catty jealousy. I despise her treatment of her children and she has no education on being a parent. I know that is not really her fault but somethings like not leaving your dying child for a dinner party is a no brainer in my book.....
    Now we have Ann!! Oh Ann!!! Much better and not scenes or silky like Jane Austen's previously characters. She had great ideas. She knows how to keep her family no only from shame but also save money. It is an interesting change of pass from having a dislike able Maine character who makes bad choices to having a sensible girl. (modern sense not Austen scene).

  2. Persuasion has Jane Austen delving deeper and deeper into the sublime and the gothic. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane didn't even show the marriage between Elizabeth and Darcy, yet in Persuasion, she shows Louisa severely injuring herself. That's a complete 180, and a huge departure from all that came before that. Using Lord Byron within her work shows that she was very aware of gothic books and the effect it had on other people, and that she was comfortable with it. Northanger Abbey likewise shows Jane Austen's movement towards something more sinister, if only because of the plot concerning the main character insisting everything in her life, including her father and friends, had dark undertones. Jane Austen's descriptions show that she wanted to flesh out the locales and people much more than she did before.