Persuasion | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe explains the symbols in Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.

Persuasion | Symbols



Music represents Anne Elliot's solitude and reflects her relationship with Captain Wentworth. Instead of dancing and socializing with others at the Great House at Uppercross, she remains in the background, busy and useful as she provides the music for others' enjoyment. In Volume 1, Chapter 8 Anne assumes Captain Wentworth has asked about her because his dancing partner replies, "Oh! no, never; she has quite given up dancing. She had rather play." She has thus created for herself a world apart from the social life of others, observing their pleasures and denying her own. At the same time music represents her devotion for Wentworth. By secluding herself she reserves her heart for him, and music, a common joy of theirs, is a way for her to remember the love they shared briefly.

Later in the novel however, music brings them together again, if not yet permanently. Their encounter at the concert in Volume 2, Chapter 8 is a turning point in the story, as it is music that emboldens Anne to attend the event and engage in conversation with Captain Wentworth.


Ships symbolize the lives and fortunes of several characters in the novel. For Captain Wentworth and Admiral Croft ships represent their livelihood, which is surrounded by risk and rewards. Both speak of ships romantically—and with reverence. When Wentworth remembers the Asp, his dialogue becomes heightened and emotional in Volume 1, Chapter 8: "She did all that I wanted. I knew she would. I knew that we should either go to the bottom together, or that she would be the making of me." Ships also serve as a symbol of the Crofts' happy marriage in that Mrs. Croft accompanies her husband on long voyages so that they can be together.

Ships also indicate upward mobility and heroism. For Captain Wentworth commanding a ship and leading his men during war have brought him status and fortune, making him a more suitable marriage prospect in the eyes of his more affluent acquaintances, if not Anne's, who loved him eight years before. From Anne's association with Captain Wentworth she has knowledge of the navy, and her continued interest in it reflects her love for him. To her ships represent regret, and at the end of the story, fear for her husband's safety.

Questions for Symbols

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1. What is the Greek view towards conflict? How is this view developed in Greek myth? 2. How is this view of conflict different than our view of the role of conflict within Canadian culture? 3. Should
need help on my grammar, citations, and annotated summary my knoeldge a summary have to have 1) summary 2) why is it worth it 3) how I'm going to use it which sources should be in italics? Annotated B
explain the channels of communication and give a detailed answe please
Oates has specifically mentioned the "Death and the Maiden" folktales as one inspiration for this story (see "Death and the Maiden" under " Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory "). Some literary critics have
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