Part VI: Persuasion
I saved the best for last. Persuasion has been my favorite book since I first read it in late 1995, after seeing the gorgeous 1995 BBC adaptation. I’ve probably read it 6 or 7 times since then and I love it more each time. It’s been several years since my last re-read, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to have a fresher perspective this time.
Lately, I have been involved in a discussion about the heroine, Anne Elliot. There are some people who think she is a doormat, and others who, like me, think she’s a strong, admirable woman. So, in this reading, I am going to try to pay particular attention to Anne and her thoughts/actions to see if I can understand why some people don’t like her.
So I’ve just started the book. We’ve really only met Sir Walter, Miss Elliot and Lady Russell. We know that Sir Walter is a very proud man who thinks very, very highly of himself. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, is a chip off the old block who cannot find herself a husband. She has been her father’s hostess since she lost her mother 14 years earlier. Lady Russell is a neighbor of the Elliots and was a dear friend of the late Lady Elliot (who was not like her husband at all). She is a sort of surrogate mother to the Elliot daughters. We are told that she loves Elizabeth “just because,” and not because Elizabeth is particularly lovable. We know that Mary, the youngest daughter, is married to the son of a local squire, and that she and Lady Russell are not that close. But we are also told that Anne, the middle daughter, is special. Anne is the most like her mother, and Lady Russell loves her very much. We get all this in the first two chapters.