Course Hero. "Persuasion Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 24 July 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Persuasion/>.
Course Hero. (2016, November 28). Persuasion Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 24, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Persuasion/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Persuasion Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed July 24, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Persuasion/.
Course Hero, "Persuasion Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed July 24, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Persuasion/.
Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe explains the symbols in Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.
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.