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|Persuasion in Persuasion (chapters 5-8)
Written by Tracy W
(9/27/2005 2:54 a.m.)
Mr Shepherd repeats his trick of flattery by getting Sir Walter to behave by telling him that the Admiral knew him as a model of good breeding.
I shortly find myself wishing that Anne had chosen to take notes from Mr Shepherd, as she tries to persuade Elizabeth to be cautious about Mrs Clay. Anne herself recognises she has a problem "She had little hope of sucess" and seems to be doing it more to comfort her own conscience.
We do not see how Anne first raised the subject, but again she responds to Elizabeth's objections by a rational argument: "There is hardly any personal defect," replied Anne, "which an agreeable manner might not gradually reconcile one to."
Anne has more success with Mary, who does not flatly deny rational arguments. E.g. when Mary complains that she didn't come earlier, and Anne pionts out that Mary sent a cheerful message and she was very busy, Mary does not apologise, but does not dispute the point. Here, perhaps, is one of her points of superiority to Elizabeth.
In Chatper 6, we do not see Anne having much success with smoothing over all the troubles between the families, but I think even Mr Shepherd would find his powers limited here.
In here JA makes it clear that it is very easy to persuade someone to do something they want to do anyway, as Mary happily accepts Anne's offer to stay with little Charles, and her husband accepts it too with a bit more argument. Interestingly, this exchange implies that Charles Musgrove enjoys his wife's company at some points. We are told, when Anne is persuading him that she is happy to stay at home while him and Mary both go to the Great House that "...conviction was at least very agreeable...". Since he is going anyway, it implies he enjoys Mary going too.
And then we have, sadly, Captain Wentworth's opinion on persuasion.
This is a view on persuasion, that one should not give in to it. Or at least not give in to it easily. I wonder if Captain Wentworth is here distinguishing between persuasion and argument (between working on one's emotions, and working on one's rational being). I think he is going to have to change somewhat on this topic, since Anne does not appear to be weak to me and he must learn to appreciate her again (assuming him to still be the hero of the novel).
In the next chaper, Chapter 8, we see someone trying to persuade Wentworth.
The Admiral and Mrs Croft jumps on him when he objects to carrying women by boat. Unlike Sir Walter and Elizabeth, when attacked in this line he argues rationally enough back rather than dismissing arguments:
But he is not shaken from his view, and at the end we see this exchange:
"Ah! my dear," said the Admiral, "when he has got a wife, he will sing a different tune. When he is married, if we have the good luck to live to another war, we shall see him do as you and I, and a great many others have done. We shall have him very thankful to any body that will bring him his wife."
"Ay, that we shall."
"Now I have done," cried Captain Wentworth. "When once married people begin to attack me with -- 'Oh! you will think very differently when you are married' I can only say, 'No, I shall not;' and then they say again, 'Yes, you will,' and there is an end of it."
He got up and moved away.
He is now closing himself off to persuasion and in accordance with his earlier stated belief about Anne, not being subject to it. (Though, in this case, I can sympathise with him, everyone who has been attacked along such lines "Oh, you will think very differently when you are working/married/a parent" surely does :) ).
And, despite his objections to persuasion, he is not emotionally detached to people. His courteous attention to Mrs Musgrove proves that.
I look forward to seeing how persuasion works out in his character.
I think my hypothesis is still standing, Wentworth, who is certainly an admirable character, does not reject rational arguments like Sir Walter and Elizabeth do.
BTW, I wonder how he got Dick Musgrove to write those two letters to his parents? Does threatening keel-hauling count as persuasion? :)
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