Persuasion | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Persuasion | Quotes


Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgment and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence afterwards.

Narrator, Chapter 1

This miniature history of the late Lady Elliot is typical of Austen's subtle use of irony, as well as her clear-eyed portrayal of the realities of marriage for women.


Have a little mercy on the poor men.

Mrs. Clay, Chapter 3

Sir Walter Elliot demonstrates his superficial values when he criticizes the premature aging of navy men, mocking their "mahogany" skin, "lines and wrinkles," and hair loss rather than focusing on their heroism. Mrs. Clay seems a voice of reason but her point leads back to a compliment on Sir Walter's looks.


She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.

Narrator, Chapter 4

Through backstory the narrator explains that by 27 Anne Elliot has learned to value the love she was persuaded to give up at 19.


Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion she certainly had not.

Narrator, Chapter 6

Throughout the novel Anne struggles to achieve calm acceptance, but her occasional blushes and even tears show that she has deep wells of emotion below her outward poise.


His bright proud eye spoke the conviction that he was nice; and Anne Elliot was not out of his thoughts, when he more seriously described the woman he should wish to meet with. "A strong mind, with sweetness of manner."

Captain Frederick Wentworth, Chapter 7

Readers see the first hint that even though he has been hurt by Anne, Wentworth still has sparks of feeling for her. He will be "nice," or choosy, despite his declaration that "anybody between fifteen and thirty may have me for asking."


Anne did not wish for more of such looks and speeches. His cold politeness, his ceremonious grace, were worse than anything.

Narrator, Chapter 8

During a dance Anne Elliot finds Captain Wentworth sitting in the seat she had previously occupied. When he offers it back to her she leaves, overwhelmed with emotion. She believes he no longer loves her and is pained by his lack of emotion.


If I loved a man, as she loves the Admiral, I would be always with him, nothing should ever separate us, and I would rather be overturned by him, than driven safely by anybody else.

Louisa Musgrove, Chapter 10

During a walk in the country Anne Elliot eavesdrops on Louisa Musgrove and Captain Wentworth's flirtation. This blatant announcement, which is met with "enthusiasm," shifts Anne's thinking and she believes Wentworth is no longer available.


Anne, attending with all the strength and zeal, and thought, which instinct supplied, to Henrietta, still tried, at intervals, to suggest comfort to the others, tried to quiet Mary, to animate Charles, to assuage the feelings of Captain Wentworth.

Narrator, Chapter 12

After Louisa Musgrove's accident Anne is the only one in the party who remains calm enough to dictate emergency actions. Her poise and common sense make Captain Wentworth trust her choices and seek her opinion.


It was a heartiness, and a warmth, and a sincerity which Anne delighted in the more, from the sad want of such blessings at home.

Narrator, Chapter 22

When the Musgroves arrive in Bath the narrator emphasizes the values that Anne searches for in companions, unlike the pride and superficiality she finds among Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Mrs. Clay.


Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.

Anne Elliot, Chapter 23

Captain Harville and Anne Elliot argue over which gender is more constant in love, with Anne refusing to allow examples from literature as they favor male writers.


All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.

Anne Elliot, Chapter 23

As Anne continues debating the constancy of men versus women with Captain Harville, she exposes her unchanging devotion, which convinces Wentworth to try to reconcile with her.


You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.

Captain Frederick Wentworth, Chapter 23

While eavesdropping on Captain Harville and Anne Elliot's conversation, Wentworth writes a letter to Anne, expressing his love for her and asking if she still loves him.

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