Between the Lines Book Club: Persuasion Discussion Questions

Between the Lines Book Club is back, and we are reading Persuasion by Jane Austen! We will be meeting via Zoom on July 25, 2020 at 10:30AM.

Here are some discussion questions. These questions are from jansa.org, and I may add some more prior to our meeting. Consider these as you read!

Persuasion is often described as “autumnal.” Why? How does “autumnal” describe Anne Elliot’s situation? Jane Austen’s?

  1. Consider the opening of the novel. What does it tell the reader about both the characters in the novel and the condition of Britain in 1815, the year Persuasion is set?
  2. What values do Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth represent? Captain Wentworth, the Crofts,the Harvilles and Benwick?
  3. How are Sir Walter’s values displayed through his words and actions? Consider his relationship with his tenants, those who work for him, and each of his daughters.
  4. What do Sir Walter’s fiscal problems suggest about the condition of the upper class and aristocracy in Britain? Does Sir Walter recognize his failures?
  5. How are Elizabeth and Mary like their father? How are Mary Musgrove’s values displayed through her words and actions?
  6. What is Austen’s own view of the two, and how is it conveyed?
  7. Jane Austen described her heroine in a letter to her niece Fanny Knight (23-25 March 1817), “You may perhaps like the Heroine, as she is almost too good for me.” Do you agree?
  8. What arguments are there for Anne’s having listened to Lady Russell eight years earlier? How does Anne view this persuasion by the end of the novel?
  9. What does the navy represent in the novel? Compare and contrast the two worlds of the novel: the aristocracy and upper class on one hand and the British navy on the other.
  10. The characters are subject to different types of persuasion. Who is persuaded by rank/class/family connections? Who is persuaded by self-interest? Who is persuaded by self-importance?
  11. Does the novel embody a feminist viewpoint? Consider Anne’s conversation with Harville. Consider Mrs. Croft’s character and actions.

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