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Another perspective on Persuasion

June 08, 2019 10:45PM
To my recollection, this perspective has not really been explored much in fanfic, but considering the historical context of the era, there could be a potential interpretation of Persuasion that puts less judgement / fault on the various parties concerned.

Wentworth -- Being in the thick of the action during the Napoleonic Wars, he would have been highly aware of his own mortality and that of the men on his ship. As a young naval officer, he has to put on that sense of confidence and bravado in order to lead other men into battle, and his spendthrift ways are not surprising given that he really has no idea when his life could be cut short. He may be hasty to propose to Anne, but he knows that he is likely to be called back to a ship anytime and wants his taste of happiness before being sent back to the action. And also because he knows precisely that there is the risk that he might not make it out of said action alive (despite putting on a confident and optimistic front), he takes Anne's rejection very personally because deep down inside, he cannot stop thinking that Anne doesn't love him enough if she won't take advantage of that narrow piece of time to fully enjoy their togetherness before he's sent back out to sea.

Later on in the war (and considering that 8 years of war is twice the duration of WWI), it's likely that he has become completely inured to anything of life outside war and so that has helped him in part to be "unconsciously constant" (because of limited contact with the civilian world and with women) and also likely to have become somewhat de-sensitised to the danger of his own life situation. In any case, when he is turned on shore in 1814, he probably is released from a lot of tension and that's likely to be the first time he can think of attaching himself to a woman with a relatively more carefree prospect of his future.

Anne -- Anne at 19 years of age in that era is probably of similar maturity level to someone in their mid to late 20's in modern day, i.e. she is old enough to have some sense of responsibility, compassion and social grace (the qualities that attract Wentworth to her), but she is still sheltered and it does not help that in that era, women were shielded from many of the realities about war, politics or current affairs. Anne only yielded when Lady Russell persuaded her that breaking off would be for Wentworth's good, and it's likely that she probably either reasoned that (a) she would become a distraction to Wentworth, thus leading him into unneccessary risk, or (b) that Wentworth would avoid the risks that he needs to advance his career because of his attachment to her. Whichever way it was, Wentworth would not necessarily agree with that because he would have seen that in war, often whether someone lives or dies is a matter of sheer circumstances beyond the control of any precautions.

At the end of the story, Anne still thinks that she was right to follow Lady Russell's advice even though she acknowledges that the advice might be wrong, because she knows that she was inexperienced in the ways of the world and needed the guidance of an elder. It's unlikely that she would ever be truly aware of what was going on in Wentworth's mind in the year '06 when she would never have been privy to any conversation about the reality of war.

Lady Russell -- Lady Russell is doing the best she can with what she knows. Unlike the 19-year-old Anne who might have been young enough to take Wentworth's optimistic pronouncements of a bright future at sea at face value, she knows that there is a very real possibility that Anne and Wentworth's married life might last months? weeks? before he goes back out to sea never to return, and she cares enough about Anne to try her best to prevent the level of mental, financial and social devastation that this would cause to Anne.

In the WWI and WWII stories that we read, there are many tales about young couples who marry quickly just for this reason that they want to make a commitment to each other and have a taste of life together before the man goes to war. But a century later, there are more options for the woman to support herself if she gets widowed, vs. what would have been open to Anne in her times.

This interpretation is unlikely to materialise into a fanfic from my hands because I don't have a good grasp of the historical, cultural and linguistic background of the era to do it justice. However, I wanted to share this thought here so that anyone else who might identify with it can take this a step further as you wish!

Another perspective on Persuasion

KaleeJune 08, 2019 10:45PM

Re: Another perspective on Persuasion

Jim D.June 14, 2019 04:03AM

Re: Another perspective on Persuasion

AlanJune 22, 2019 10:08PM

Re: Another perspective on Persuasion

AlanJune 10, 2019 02:36AM

Re: Another perspective on Persuasion

AlidaJune 11, 2019 05:03AM

Re: Another perspective on Persuasion

AlanJune 11, 2019 07:59AM

Re: Another perspective on Persuasion

NN SJune 13, 2019 01:05AM


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