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Persuasion

Persuasion

by Jane Austen

Gender Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

[Anne speaks] "We certainly do not forget you as soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You are forced on exertion. You have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately, and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions." (23.19)

Anne suggests that differences between women's and men's feelings are in part due to their different social situations – men can go out and distract themselves in a way that women (good women, anyway) can't.

Quote #8

[Captain Harville speaks] "But let me observe that all histories are against you--all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men." (23.27)

See what happens there? Harville says that nearly all books that represent female characters do so from a male perspective – by saying what he thinks Anne is thinking (so, putting words into her mouth from a male perspective).

Quote #9

[Anne speaks ] "Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything." (23.28)

Anne agrees with Harville's idea of her position, though – suggesting that perhaps not all of one sex's ideas about the other are wrong. Anne connects the single-sidedness of literature with larger issues of female education, directly linking the gender imbalance in literature to gender inequality in society.

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