Thinking about Place in Jane Austen’s Persuasion

Thinking about Place in Jane Austen’s...

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Nicole Leung Berghof Humanities Core 1A December 2, 2009 Thinking about Place in Jane Austen’s Persuasion Travelling increases our knowledge and opens our eyes to the rest of the world. Often, our travel leads us to many new places that challenge our initial, conventional ways of thinking. We are forced to submerge ourselves into a completely new and different environment full of unfamiliar things and use our old experiences to help us find ways to accommodate ourselves into these new experiences. In the novel Persuasion by Jane Austen, attention is often focused on the places of the characters. However Austen does not define place as only a person’s location in the world, but as one’s place both geographically and within the social hierarchy. On the geographic level, attention is often placed on the various travels of the characters. Every journey serves as a purpose in showing how different places affect each of the characters’ behaviors and thinking. Austen uses travel as a means of creating new experiences for the characters. Each change in setting tests the characters’ abilities to use both their old experiences and new experiences to help them make judgments about their current location. On the social hierarchy level, social status is taken very seriously during the time that this novel took place. Social status pretty much determines how each of the characters shall live for the rest of their lives. Because of this, the characters are forced to deal with changes and threats to their social status as they move from place to place. Austen strategically uses “place” to create and develop each and every one of her characters’ personalities through the challenges they face and how they respond to them as some characters are able to use their new experiences to improve and change how they see things while others are unable to do this despite the changes occurring around them. The passage on
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Leung 2 pages 137 to 138 clearly illustrates this point as it shows how certain characters in this novel are unaccustomed to change. Pages 137 to 138 of Persuasion marked a very important passage in which Austen introduced the matter of place as in one’s position in terms of geography and society. Anne had just arrived at her family’s new house in Bath and was explaining how she felt about their current condition. Much to Anne’s disappointment, she finds that her family had already happily adapted into life in Bath. “Uppercross excited no interest, Kellynch very little, it was all Bath” (Austen 160). The past no longer mattered, and they had completely adjusted to their new settings. “Bath was their new home, and they would make it the best and try to convince everyone else of it too. No change registered in their minds; they were still so preoccupied with their own social status that they continued to think that everything they owned was the best. Sir
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Thinking about Place in Jane Austen’s...

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