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by Jane Austen

Persuasion Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence afterwards.--She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years; and though not the very happiest being in the world herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children, to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her when she was called on to quit them. (1.7)

Some mistakes can be fixed, but not a foolish choice of marriage partner – unless one is lucky, like Mr. Elliot, to be conveniently widowed when one's spouse becomes a burden. Lady Elliot seems a bit like Mrs. Smith, in that she tries to make the best of a bad situation.

Quote #2

She often told herself it was folly, before she could harden her nerves sufficiently to feel the continual discussion of the Crofts and their business no evil. (4.10)

Here Anne uses accusations of folly as a buffer between herself and her emotions – by telling herself that what's she's feeling is stupid, she tries to convince herself not to feel it at all.

Quote #3

Now, how were his sentiments to be read? Was this like wishing to avoid her? And the next moment she was hating herself for the folly which asked the question. (7.30)

Folly here seems to mean pointlessness – since she doesn't think there's any way they'll get back together, there's no reason for her to think so much about what he's thinking. Self-hatred seems a rather strong reaction, though – why is she so mad at herself for thinking this?

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