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by Jane Austen

Persuasion Memory and the Past Quotes

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

Quote #1

A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but not with a few months ended Anne's share of suffering from it. Her attachment and regrets had, for a long time, clouded every enjoyment of youth, and an early loss of bloom and spirits had been their lasting effect. (4.6)

Time is subjective – through the impact it had on her and the space it takes up in her memory, the episode with Wentworth seems much larger to Anne than the calendar says it was.

Quote #2

How eloquent could Anne Elliot have been! how eloquent, at least, were her wishes on the side of early warm attachment, and a cheerful confidence in futurity, against that over-anxious caution which seems to insult exertion and distrust Providence! She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning. (4.9)

Anne's experience suggests that in some cases it's better for young people to make their own decisions – they might be mistaken, but older people don't necessarily know any better. While Anne has gotten wiser as she got older, that wisdom tells her to do something totally different than what the supposedly older-and-wiser people told her to do at the time.

Quote #3

Soon, however, she began to reason with herself, and try to be feeling less. Eight years, almost eight years had passed, since all had been given up. How absurd to be resuming the agitation which such an interval had banished into distance and indistinctness! What might not eight years do? Events of every description, changes, alienations, removals--all, all must be comprised in it, and oblivion of the past--how natural, how certain too! It included nearly a third part of her own life. Alas! with all her reasoning, she found, that to retentive feelings eight years may be little more than nothing. (7.28)

Emotion trumps reason here – despite her best efforts, Anne is unable to explain away her feelings. Just saying "this is the way things should be" doesn't actually make them so. Why does she think that Wentworth's feelings have been more reasonable than her own?

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