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by Jane Austen

Persuasion Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. How does the theme of persuasion develop throughout the novel? What distinguishes good uses of persuasion from bad ones? When is persuasion justified?
  2. How does the novel represent the navy and naval officers? Which aspects does it portray as positive or negative, and why?
  3. Why does the action in the novel move around to so many different places? How do the rural or urban surroundings affect what’s happening with the story and characters?
  4. How would the novel be different if we got the story from Captain Wentworth’s point of view? What effect does focusing on Anne’s perspective have on the way we get the story?
  5. At the end of the novel, Anne’s family is somewhat more accepting of Wentworth than they were the first time she wanted to marry him. Have they changed, or has Wentworth changed (or both)? What are these changes, and why do they make a difference?
  6. Both Anne and Captain Benwick are poetry fans. How are their attitudes towards poetry similar, and how are they different? Do their reading experiences suggest anything about how we as readers might relate to Persuasion?
  7. The narrator gives the moral of the story as "When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort," but says that "this may be bad morality to conclude with" (24.1). Why does the narrator judge this as "bad morality"? Is this really the message of the novel? What other "morals" does the novel suggest?

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