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Written by Cheryl
(10/6/2008 12:00 a.m.)
Persuasion has long been said to have an "autumnal" feel to it, and my focus this read is to find specific references that contribute to that perception. A great help to me in this topic is Ellen Moody's Persuasion Chronology which can be found in the Persuasion FAQ.
The most common definition of "autumnal" (aside from "pertaining to autumn") is: "A period of maturity verging on decline." This definition seems to perfectly describe Anne after the break up with Wentworth. They met in the summer of 1806, "A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance" (ch. 4) so it was - literally - autumn when the breakup occurs and Anne experiences "…an early loss of bloom and spirits" (ch. 4) so it is a figurative autumn for Anne as well.
It is autumn as the Elliots prepare to move to Bath, and Anne doesn't wish to go in part because she doesn't want "to forego all the influence so sweet and so sad of the autumnal months in the country." (ch. 5) In that same chapter, Anne walks to Lady Russell's home "in a sort of desolate tranquility". Autumn does have that duality to it - "sweet/sad" "desolate/tranquility" that Austen does so well.
I'll end with the "sweet" side of Anne's bittersweet autumnal emotions this week. She arrives at Uppercross on September 9 (see Chronology) not in the cheeriest frame of mind, but you can sense an immediate lifting of her spirits upon entering the Great House and visiting the Musgroves - "Her own spirits improved by change of place and subject, by being removed three miles from Kellynch" (ch. 6) - and their cheerful and happy chatter.
Are there other instances of the autumnal feel that you noticed in this week's chapters?
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