Jane Austen

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Themes and Colors
Status and Social Class Theme Icon
Marriage Theme Icon
Gender Inequality Theme Icon
Persuasion Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Persuasion, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Status and Social Class

Persuasion, like many of Austen’s novels, is a study in 18th century English society, and its nuances of class rigidity and social mobility. Status and independence are composed of a combination of wealth, ancestry, and occupation: certain characters achieve independence through marrying into wealth, as is the case with Mr. William Elliot’s first marriage, while others such as Captain Frederick Wentworth achieve status and wealth through climbing the Naval ranks. Sir Walter Elliot prides…

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Written in the last years of Austen’s life, Persuasion is arguably the author’s most mature and sober marriage plot. The novel critiques the heady impulses of youth displayed by Louisa Musgrove in favor of the more quiet and prudent considerations of Anne Elliot in matters of marriage and romance. For women, who were often barred from owning property and faced significant limitations in employment, marriage was particularly critical as both the expected social norm and…

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Gender Inequality

Persuasion reveals the limited sphere of choice available to women in Austen’s era. In the case of the female characters, marriage represents the most viable option for a woman to live a good life. Women’s influence, in this sense, lies largely in their relation to men—to attract, reject, and accept their proposals of marriage. The comparatively sober tone of the novel results in part from the protagonist’s reality that she is past her prime; even…

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The novel begins and returns repeatedly to the question of whether it is wise to be influenced by the concerns and counsel of others, or to remain fixed in one’s convictions and impulses. Anne Elliot reveals her disposition for the former when she dissolves her relationship with Captain Wentworth on the advice of her good friend and mentor Lady Russell. Seven years later, Anne experiences unrelenting regret over her decision and becomes convinced that…

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