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Themes

While Persuasion is on one level a romance, it also presents some very unromantic ideas about marriage. Sure, it would be great if you could spot your true love a mile away, get hitched, and live happily ever after. It's more likely, however, that two people will meet, get involved, and then realize that the beloved is not all he or she seemed to be. The lucky characters manage to figure that out before they get too serious, and the even luckier ones end up with a happy marriage anyway, but it's Chance and not Cupid that's running the marriage game.

Questions About Marriage

  1. What makes for a good marriage in the novel? Are there different kinds of good marriages?
  2. Does a good husband have the same qualities as a good wife? Does a bad husband have the same problems as a bad wife? Would a good wife make a bad husband?
  3. Are there significant differences between the marriages of the older generation (those who are already married at the beginning of the novel) and the younger (those who get married at the end of the story)? What changes or doesn't change?
  4. What does the state of a marriage reveal about the individuals in it?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The novel's opposition to long engagements suggests that it's impossible to be certain of the character of one's spouse before marrying them, and therefore that wedded happiness is up to chance.

The novel's opposition to long engagements suggests that the choice of a spouse should be based on gut instinct rather than thoughtful judgment.

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