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|Persuasion and Lady Russell
Written by Tracy W
(10/20/2005 1:00 a.m.)
Well I didn't post anything on my group read focus last week because I couldn't think of anything to say. But I'm back again this week, unfortunately I am typing this after a brainstorming session at work where they saw fit to ply us with wine, so please forgive any rambling.
The example of persuasion that jumped out at me this time was Lady Russell and Mr Elliot trying to persuade Anne to marry him. Unlike in the earlier chapters, here we see persuasion working on a sensible character.
Mr Elliot works by flattery, in a similiar but subtler vein to what Mr Shepherd did to Sir Walter in the first four chapters. From Chapter 16: My dear cousin (sitting down by her), you have a better right to be fastidious than almost any other woman I know;....
In a more sophisticated way he also seeks to engage her interest in himself by implication:
"Indeed! How so? You can have been acquainted with it only since I came to Bath, excepting as you might hear me previously spoken of in my own family."
"I knew you by report long before you came to Bath. I had heard you described by those who knew you intimately. I have been acquainted with you by character many years. Your person, your disposition, accomplishments, manner: they were all described, they were all present to me."
Mr. Elliot was not disappointed in the interest he hoped to raise. No one can withstand the charm of such a mystery. To have been described long ago to a recent acquaintance, by nameless people, is irresistible; and Anne was all curiosity. She wondered, and questioned him eagerly; but in vain. He delighted in being asked, but he would not tell.
"No, no, some time or other perhaps, but not now. He would mention no names now; but such, he could assure her, had been the fact. ...
Lady Russell has a more indirect approach. Like Mr Elliot, she uses flattery. From Chapter 17:
Lady Russell also works on Anne's affection for her: "I own that to be able to regard you as the future mistress of Kellynch, the future Lady Elliot ...My dearest Anne, it would give me more delight than is often felt at my time of life!"
These inducements come close to working on Anne. I have to revise my original hypothesis. Anne, a sensible character, is affected by flattery and by painting a positive portrayl of the future, in the same manner though not to the same degree as Sir Walter is.
However, Anne's superior character shows in how she is also affected by Lady Russell's hints of how much happiness the connection would bring to Lady Russell - I can never see Sir Walter being moved by the presentation of other people's pleasures. And Anne's superior character is also showed in how she considers the flattery and inducements against reality, and regards reality as more important. From Chapter 17: She never could accept him. And it was not only that her feelings were still adverse to any man save one; her judgment, on a serious consideration of the possibilities of such a case, was against Mr. Elliot.
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