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|The Villain in Persuasion
Written by Kathy Lynn386
(4/2/2013 5:36 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, And there is no evil antagonist, penned by Chandra S
"Persuasion" is my second favorite JA novel after P&P.
One of the things I really enjoy about Jane Austen is the fact that she "allows" the heroes to explain themselves; Darcy explains his actions which illuminates his strong and generous personal character, and Wentworth, through his letter declares his constancy in his love for Anne. His phrases are so tender and full of power that we are moved to tears, believing that hope still resides where possibilities are given a voice.
I put forth the idea that "Persuasion" does have a villian, but that it is not a "tangible" one, but one that ravages it's victims unawares. The villian in "Persuasion" is like a claw with three talons; tallon 1) time, tallon 2) the dictates of proper, gender-specific behavior, and, tallon 3) the flaw of smallness in human nature.
These are not regular "bad guys" we can lock in jail or jeer at and love to hate like Wickham, for example, but they are just as damming and destrutive. A flesh-and-blood person can be robbed of love, money, food or shelter just as painfully as from a black hearted criminal with a weapon.
Because Anne's father and neighbor think in small-minded ways,and insist that Anne obey the societal rules about which would be the most proper and richest man to marry, they force Anne to refuse Frederick's first marriage proposal. As a result Anne suffers for the next eight years.
While some were lucky enough to marry for love, often, unions had more to do with money and title and what would secure a girl's wealth and continued provision, and less to do with feelings or happiness.
Jane Austen herself suffered from much the same misery and reliance on the kindness of family as her heroine Anne Elliot, and I like others suspect that A.E. was modeled after Austen herself, but sadly, Jane could not write a satisfying "happily ever after" for herself the way she did for Anne.
It was considered wrong and in poor taste for a Regency woman to work or even to write and earn her own keep. Constraints like this condemned JA and her characters to live at the mercy of the flawed people around them. Unless fate smiled on them and changed circumstances for the better, prospects were bleak. How much more evil could a "villian" be?
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