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Anne Elliot's Personal Transformation in Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'

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The purpose of the “perfect novel” is to recognize and mock social arrogance and the confusion of emotions. By building character personalization, Austen shows her favor to the ruling class of educated, virtuous people. This idea is an example of just how Jane Austen has defended her perspective on the value of social structure. Along with this idea, novel acts as a message of second chances at relationships and needing to wait for the right timing in life. Because of the time period of the novel, Austen is able to highlight how marriage was perceived as convenient and not because of love. In ‘Persuasion’, Jane Austen upholds the values of Christian living by establishing her heroine as submissive to duty and willing to wait for what God has in store for her life.

Firstly, the main character, Anne Elliot, is deeply influenced by her father and sisters, and Lady Russell to make rash decisions about her love life. Anne Elliot, the daughter of the arrogant Sir Walter Elliot, is a young woman of quietness, allurement, deep emotions. At the young age of nineteen, she fell deeply in love with, and was engaged to the fearless Captain Frederick Wentworth. However, he was a man of very little fortune, and unfortunately Anne allowed herself to be convinced into leaving him to find a man of higher stature. Eight years later, Captain Wentworth returns to the town with a respectable amount of money, but still unmarried. Still Anne finds herself conflicted because her pride will not let her love Wentworth like before the war. When the Captain first sees Anne for the first time since the ending of their engagement and before he left he declared her, in a very harsh way and says to her that, “so altered that he should not have known her again” (Austen, 24). Because Anne has a timid personality she unknowingly accepts the opinions of others who do not share her same perspective on the matter. “She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or hasty thing, than those whose…tongue never slipped” (Austen, 276). This is a similar thought to wishing you could turn back time or take back things that you have said to someone else. The quote is an example of how Austen vividly paints Anne to make her relatable to the reader. Although she is certain of her opinions, she keeps them only to herself. The first of her peers to influence her was Lady Russell. She forced her opinions on Anne and convinced her into believing that marrying Wentworth would ruin her future and her happiness. “She had spoken it; but she trembled when it was done, conscious that her words were listed to, and daring not even to try to observe their effect” (Austen, 212). Deciding to follow her instincts, she remains composed and thinks about how her decisions need to be based on her opinions. Instead of taking initiative immediately, Anne, with Wentworth on her mind, decides to continue her relations with Charles. “That this man is struck with you, – and even I, at this moment, see something like Anne Elliot again” (Austen, 87). Wentworth’s love for Anne is quietly shown through simple actions like loving glances. This is an example of how many chances he passed to voice his love to her with his speech, but he could not find the courage to show his true feelings (Butler). Her reasoning, prior to decision-making, plays a role in her calming her heightened emotions and achieving a sense of the self-control needed to restore her inner and outer composure around others. “Soon, however, she began to reason with herself, and try to be feeling less” (Austen, 64). In order to grasp this ‘cool, collected mind frame’ she fights her own emotions with thoughts that she made decisions that will result in good for others. “Had she not imagined herself consulting his good, even more than her own, she could hardly have given him up” (Austen, 27). Anne’s father and sisters forced her to refuse Wentworth because they wanted her to find a suitable match like Mr. Elliot because Wentworth was more poor than Mr. Elliot. In her own life, Austen remained unmarried in life, despite receiving attention from a wealthy suitor, because she believed that no amount of money could ever equal a true love. The verse 2 Timothy 2:22 says: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart”. With that being said, Anne’s character is a reflection of Austen’s own views because the companionship in marriage was too important to risk for the love of someone else’s money. Anne Elliot is described as someone who watched, observed, and reflected other people in situations. This summarizes the personal process through which she formed her opinions and values throughout the novel. Anne has a particular pattern of reasoning with herself before her making decisions. Although she did not sway in her opinions and is willing to face the truth, she finds the feeling uncomfortable.

Moreover, Anne demonstrates her practical maturity naturally to others. Although she was overcome with immense feelings about decisions that will effect her lifestyle, she redirects her energy. Throughout the novel, her maturity is seen as she recognizes and understands her faults and bad character traits in each situation. Also, she prioritizes making her self available and useful to work hard and assist others, but this means that she does not have time for herself. “Though her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she sat sat the instrument, she was extremely glad to be employed” (Austen, 68). Miss Mary calls upon Anne to be at her side at Uppercross because she knew that Anne was a prepared and adequate nurse. As she offered her service to help with the care of little Charles, she finds herself purposely missing the opportunity to cross paths with Captain Wentworth. Although, she missed multiple chances with him, the Captain was aware to this happening and later prescribes Anne’s care for an injured Louisa after her fall. Captain Wentworth says, “If one stays to assist Mrs. Charles musgrove will, of course, wish to get back to her children; but, if Anne will stay, no one so proper, so capable as Anne!” (Austen, 109). Because Anne is naturally nurturing, she takes initiative to help Louise in the crisis of the fall. All at once, she starts helping Louisa, comforting the others, and calling out instructions. This makes her the ‘cool, calm, collected’ figure for others to look at in the time of a crisis, and she becomes the absolute focus of attention.

Despite being certain of her opinions, she does not speak about them to others; however, she admits that has has much to say. Even though her family still ignores her, she begins to attempt to voice her opinion more often and more conclusively than at one time. She communicates for longer amounts of time to a greater number of people, including Captain Wentworth. However, she still is not closed off to other’s response to what she speaks, but she decides to speak up regardless. Eventually, Anne has a conversation with Captain Harville about the dependability of women versus that of men. At times, she still experiences a feeling of being overcome with emotion, making her voice shake and making her speech impaired. When Lady Russell gives her two cents to Anne, Anne tries to view the situation from the point of view of others. Phillipians 2:4 says: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Some view Anne as a quietly rebellious character; even when she reflects on her choices due Russell’s comments she does not blame her but acknowledged how she has not lost her feelings for Wentworth (Zuppinger).

Furthermore, Anne displays her sense of duty by trying to set an example for others. At the same time as one watches the powers of persuasion at unfolding among the characters in the novel, one must also be attentive of the compelling influence of Anne Elliot’s morality on them a as reader. In order to convince the reader that Anne’s Christian living is beautiful, Jane Austen makes Anne Elliot a persuasive moral model or example. The heroine decides to remove herself from others and into solitude to focus on subduing her emotions. At the time of a crisis, she begins to grow an authoritative persona and begins to instruct others.

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From this change in personality, she receives an obedient response from others that gives her a sense of confidence to persuade the Musgroves and she feels successful after. ”Leave me, and go to him. Rub her hands, rub her temples” (Austen, 112). After convincing someone else, she is much more emphasis in how she communicates her words such as : “a low feeling voice”, “cried Anne eagerly”. Even after her success in convincing another person, she keeps a flexible opinion and uses it to her advantage to advance her arguments.

In addition, Anne experiences a spiritual isolation and space from the people around her that influence her life choices. “She was ashamed of herself, quite ashamed of being so nervous, so overcome by such a trifle; but so it was, and it required a long application of solitude and reflection to recover her…” (Austen, 77). Anne’s Christian standards keep her grounded while she lives in this community with such corrupt people.

The novel acts as a satire about the nobility in self-sufficiency and snobbery, of the arrogant wealthy people and how they are morally bankrupt, but the gentle and lenient tone are due to the sweetness of Anne’s Elliot’s character. Austen’s novel is referred to as the “perfect novel” because of the strengths of its characters, its comic effort, and its analysis of the theme of personal growth and maturity. The author, Austen, does a great job of depicting her characters as caricatures and gives them such vivid personality that they appear like actual people with real emotion, faults, and annoying habits. Anne is not hypocritical, but lives out her moral beliefs by example for others to see others. She is a good example of obeying God’s greatest commandments for our lives. Mark 12:31 says: “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Anne remains true to her character and values, in spite of the changes that were taking place all around her within the mercurial society. In the end of the novel, Anne makes the decision to marry Captain Wentworth, a man that she loved initially but refused because of his social status in the society.

Finally, the novel concludes with the “happy” ending for the main character, Anne. The Elliot family finally accepts Captain Wentworth naval profession. However, the last sentence of the novel is uncertain and sounds a bit like a warning. “Anne glorified being a sailor’s wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance” (Austen, 264). Remembering that war is what brought back the love between Anne and Wentworth, it is important for them to remember that if war were to come about in their lives they would still be affected. This is an example of why the ending is not completely “happy”.

Throughout the novel, Austen’s worldview of Christianity shines bright because of her depiction of Anne Elliot. There is no doubt that Anne Elliot is a virtuous young woman that lives out the biblical standards of justice, fairness, temperance, fortitude, faith, charity, patience, humility, and hope.

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Anne Elliot’s Personal Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/anne-elliots-personal-transformation-in-jane-austens-persuasion/
“Anne Elliot’s Personal Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/anne-elliots-personal-transformation-in-jane-austens-persuasion/
Anne Elliot’s Personal Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/anne-elliots-personal-transformation-in-jane-austens-persuasion/> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Anne Elliot’s Personal Transformation in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/anne-elliots-personal-transformation-in-jane-austens-persuasion/
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