Persuasion (In Modern Life?)…

Okay. The last post based on Jane Austen for a while, I promise.

It’s been a week or so since I finished Austen’s Persuasion, and it feels good to think about it after all my work has been turned in. I’ve had some time to contemplate how I feel about this novel, and it always amazes me how I can get something new out of it.

Persuasion is a hard novel to judge because I’ve always had a problem with Captain Wentworth blaming Anne for refusing his first offer of marriage. He is angry that she allows herself to be persuaded not to marry him—but honestly, I don’t really blame Anne for refusing him at first.

He was penniless, connectionless—a nobody who might not be able to provide for his wife and family. He had to earn Anne’s hand by joining the navy and making his fortune.

When I first read Persuasion as a teenager, I was so caught up in the love story, the fact that these two people should really be together but they can’t be. That Anne secretly continues hoping even though she probably shouldn’t. As I read it this time, I was again struck by the love story, but this time for different reasons.

For such a practical person like Anne, we can see it would be difficult to put that sense of practicality aside and just marry Captain Wentworth, no matter what anyone else says. And we can even see that today. We’re encouraged to be practical before we fall in love—for it to be convenient and in line with our plans with our careers, school, time commitments.

Perhaps that’s why we are so happy when Anne finally says, “Screw it. I’m going to marry the guy I love.” She eventually gives into her feelings and puts practicality aside.

And we get a happy ending from Austen.

What do you think? Do you think we need to be practical with our choices? Or should we put our sense aside?

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