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~The equillibrium of social dissertion~
Aug 07, 2010 07:49 PM 1812 Views
(Updated Aug 09, 2010 03:19 PM)



Note - Please watch my first video review on MS and chuckle at any faults with glee!!!

The problem which surrounds me is that I have a lot of books lined up which I would love to review, however time has other ideas. Give me any feedback which you consider appropriate, except the quality of the webcam, which I am sorry, I cannot improve. I was going for the silken charm in my voice. I thought it would be enough to sweep the audience off its feet and that they would more or less forget about the blemishes on my face which appear throughout the video. It is not that I was born with natural killer looks, the camera is just too kind...


Persuasion follows the chronicles of Anne Elliot,the middle daughter of a baron who is obsessed with his image in the public as much as he is worried about hisimage in the household. At the beginning of the novel itself, Anne rejects the proposal of Wentworth, upon ‘advice’ by her godmother Lady Russell because of his uncertain financial position and social rank. Fortunes play a cruel hand, when 7-8 years later, Wentworth re-enters Anne’s life as a wealthy Captain whereas the Elliot household’s finances have taken a turn for the worse. How Anne redeems herself in the eyes of Wentworth and their eventual clearing of the misunderstanding surrounding them forms the jist of the plot.

Austen was never known for her narrative innovations. The plot itself can be linked akin to the Romantic/escapist fiction that categorised her earlier works such as Pride and Prejudice,MansfieldPark etc. However, where Persuasion should be differed is that its feet lie in ground reality rather than escapist fiction. Austen’s social commentary is more effective because this plot is more plausible, with situations which are more conceivable. This allows the reader to connect to Anne Elliot more as well, the protagonist who has become an outlaw in her own social class. It is for the themes that I urge my fellow Msians to read Persuasion and Not for some Feminist craving. Austen would do well to be associated with all round positivity rather than gender based love affairs.

One important aspect is that after reading classic literature, especially authors like Austen, one begins to appreciate the magic of words and the many ways you can play around with them Persuasion’s first paragraph that establishes the character of Sir Walter is a classic example. It also is a prime example of the death of language. The English language, it appears, seemed to have a lot more words back then! Words, which have been forgotten or are now limited to these books. Words which we seldom use or have time to appreciate in our daily vocabulary. It for the abundance of words alone that Austen needs to be picked up one day or another, not for some gender fantasy, for she may be responsible for giving you a vocabulary crash course – a subject which our teachers in India, with their heavy reliance on grammar fail to inculcate!

Austen’s brilliant characterisation skills are on full display. She ‘shows’ rather than ‘tells’, a term which has become synonymous to good writing in modern times. For example, she never describes Sir Walter as being self obsessed. Instead, she ‘shows’ the audience his idiosyncrasies through his actions and his temperament. This is evident in the very first paragraph itself – “if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed”.

Austen has only recently been appreciated in academic circles, probably after 1950s. Dickens fanatics have been around for years, but Austen is relatively new. It maybe, that the rise of the Feminist movement coincided with Austen’s popularity. However, Austen may be called one of the first egalitarian authors – proposing agency for women, discrediting social rank, class and hierarchy and exposing the hypocrisy in her society. This is what makes her valuable. Austen should always be seen as a social commentator first, not the connoisseur of ‘chic literature’ which she has become today. The ideas which she proposed nearly 200 years ago have only been realised to some extent today. It just shows the rigidity of society’s attitudes and how resistant society is to change. If I can convince you to read Austen, it would be significant.

Also, this was her last novel before her death. So this one is hurried, but since it less edited, it comes across as more evocative and has more of an emotional core than just surface social commentary disguised with a fantasy plot. If you were to choose only one of Austen’s novels, at least you mustchoose this one.

All in all, enjoy Persuasion! And do let me know what you thought of my efforts.

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Persuasion - Jane Austen