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Appearance versus reality

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Appearance versus reality In "Persuasion", we meet Anne Elliot, a bright, attractive, upper-class woman who fell in love with a sailor, Captain Frederick Wentworth. However, Anne was successfully persuaded to reject Wentworth by her aristocratic family and friends, who failed to recognize Wentworth's fine character and saw only his shallowness. Both Anne's sisters are extremely different to Anne. Mary is an over reactive hypochondriac. Elizabeth very much follows in her father's footsteps. She enjoys going off gallivanting at upper-class social gatherings and usually accompanies her father on these. The central conflict in "Persuasion" is that of appearance versus reality. Anne can certainly see the superficiality that surrounds her while at Kellynch Hall with her family; however, she allows others - Lady Russell and her sisters to interpret what she sees and to force her to act according to their wishes. Anne was raised in Kellynch Hall, a beautiful estate shrouded in prestige, wealth, and superficiality. Her father, Sir Walter Elliot, is a vain, foolish man, who spends his days rereading the Baronetage, a genealogy of the local aristocratic families. He values appearance over all depth of character; he refuses to associate with anyone who is not physically pleasing. Admiral Croft, who rents Kellynch Hall, comically remarks on the extraordinary number of mirrors in Sir Walter's dressing room: "I should think he must be rather a dressy man for his time of life. ...read more.


When she does arrive in Bath, Anne follows Sir Walter and Elizabeth to various upper-class social gatherings and shows great respect to her cousin Lady Dalrymple, whom Anne really views as a foolish noble. Anne's maturity is evident when she rejects Lady Dalyrmple's dinner invitation in favour of visiting her old and widowed friend, Mrs. Smith, whom her father views as "low company" and a "disgusting association". These comments really show the difference between Sir Walter and Anne. Sir Walter is not just vain about person but also vain of situation. "He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy". This is such a vast comparison to Anne who believes that reality is more important than appearance. In being Anne's genuine friend Mrs. Smith hastens Anne's departure from the superficial world of Kellynch Hall and acts as Lady Russell's character foil. Unlike her shallow father and sisters, Anne can see past Mrs. Smith's shabby apartment and recognize the sweet person within. Mrs. Smith gradually begins to replace Lady Russell as Anne's confidante because Lady Russell places so much stock in "rank and consequence", that she is "blinded...to the faults of those who possessed them". Lady Russell is an appropriately overbearing advisor to the insecure and obedient Anne that we meet initially. ...read more.


Her continued love for him is evidenced by her frequent reflections on their past "hearts so open...tastes so similar...feelings so in unison...countenances so beloved". Moreover, she is mortified by their current estrangement: "his cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than any thing". Even though Wentworth has become a prominent member of the Navy and has amassed a substantial fortune, Anne still resigns herself to Lady Russell's decision and does not pursue him. She consequently endures his growing affection for Louisa Musgrove and her own inability to change his view of her as one "so altered that he should not have known her again". Wentworth's passionate love letter, however, which declares to Anne, "you pierce my soul," stimulates Anne to mature. For the first time in almost eight years, Anne feels complete, "overpowering happiness". Instead of falling prey to her self-described "timidity" and "feebleness of character". In the last chapter Anne decides to act on her own desires and according to her own principles by marrying Wentworth for love. This is an appeal to the reader. Most women of the age found love wonderful and it was a big deal to be involved and in love with a man. The idea of it being a love story appeals more to readers than a horror story. At Jane Austen's time love was a man part of life and this is why she wrote about it. ...read more.

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