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Written by gkb
(10/25/2005 12:03 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Excellent post, penned by Jenny Allan
Functionally speaking, Mrs. Smith serves as a foil to Lady Russell. If LR can be said to over-persuade, Mrs. Smith underpersuades. Having no personal power EXCEPT persuasion, Mrs. Smith is more chary of her advice and less ready to risk losing the best chance she has to restore her dwindling fortunes by forcing HER opinion on Anne. Why should she suppose that Anne was more persuadable than any other young woman on the subject of whom to marry? Even JA says that when any two young people--oops that is from the end. Sorry. Anyway, Lady Russell is perfectly convinced of the rightness of her opinion. She overdoes it. Mrs. Smith is nowhere near that level of certainty. She underdoes it.
So there is just as great a danger in people NOT trying to persuade (Louisa's fall, Mr. Elliot's duplicity) as there is in people trying to persuade (LR helping break the engagement, CW persuading himself into attachment to Louisa). It's a slippery scree slope, this persuasion business! One begins to have a great deal of respect for Shepherd's and Clay's persuasive abilities. They should have gone into politics or preaching.
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