Persuasion: The Art of Persuading Readers to Find Irony

8:17 PM

            As I have previously discussed, Jane Austen is well known for her satiric critique of social class, and Persuasion is not exempt from this Austen-esque mannerism. From its very opening line, Austen makes it clear that that this novel is to prominently feature status and wealth within its pages. She exemplifies her satiric style in many ways throughout Persuasion, beginning with the way she crafts her characters to create her desired tone.
Characters - Jane Austen for children - Part 5 | Jane Austen Brazil:             Although it seems simple, the way Austen writes her characters illustrates her critique upon social class. She crafts many characters who focus themselves upon status, wealth, and looks. For starters, we have the Elliot family. Sir Walter Elliot is so concerned with status that the only book he concerns himself with is the Baronetage, which is a record of British nobility. He even goes so far as to criticize the Navy because it has a “means of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising men to honours which their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of” and he also believes “it cuts up a man's youth and vigour most horribly” (19). Although Anne Elliot had pointed out that they were deserving, hardworking men, Sir Walter made sure to emphasize the point that it gives them a false sense of status and ruins their looks – the two qualities he holds to the highest regard. The way she crafted such a character conveys satire in a very specific manner; Sir Walter Elliot serves as a device to help Austen establish an ironic tone in the beginning of the novel. He is the first character we are introduced to, and right off the bat we are given a character of nobility who is only concerned with status; he exudes conceit and arrogance, which are characteristics of the high society-types Austen is satirizing.              
            This pattern is continued throughout Persuasion with a multitude of other characters. We are presented with others such as the rest of the Elliot family and Lady Russell, Anne’s mentor who encouraged her to end her relationship with Wentworth as she deemed him unworthy. Although he comes into great wealth later on, when he and Anne first meet, he is not believed to be of high enough income or status to marry her. Her family and mentor look down upon him in result, which furthers the tone Austen is trying to create; in spite of the fact that Anne is happily in love, the main concern here is social status, so her family really does not care and they encourage her to end things anyway.
           Austen’s classic criticism of social class shines through in Persuasion just as it does in any other – her social climbing characters help to carry on her witty and ironic style and prove her satiric work. Their mannerisms, attitudes, and auras all emanate the impression that they are better than everyone else; they come across as the conceited, upper class characters Austen meant to criticize. For Austen, revealing this ironic tone is an art and she does so differently each time. In the case of Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot harbored it and portrayed it from the very beginning. 

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  1. This seems like a very interesting book to read. I really like satirical books that have an underlying message. Especially with Jane Austen's style, she is very outgoing and not afraid to add controversial topics into her work. This response to her book really got me interested in reading her, and read her a lot more so I can actually understand what is going on.