Chapter One of Persuasion by Jane Austen

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Chapter One of Persuasion by Jane Austen

Chapter one of Persuasion makes use of a highly economic narrative

style, which celebrates Austen’s success as a novelist. Austen’s

narrative style is so successful in chapter one of Persuasion as many

of the characters are introduced to the reader along with the majority

of the main themes which concern them in the novel. Austen clearly

underlines that she is writing with a novelist’s voice, using

traditional conventions of third person with past tense. This first

hint of Austen’s narration style is shown in chapter one and reappears

again in chapter eleven where it is evident that Austen has become an

omniscient narrator. This highlights to the reader that everything we

are told in chapter one will lead to a conclusion which will shape the

novel and its outcome.

The first sentence of Persuasion commences with; “Sir Walter Elliot,

of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own

amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage.” This opening

immediately introduces us to the fact that one of the main themes of

the novel is the concept of the class system. With “Sir”, we

immediately see that Walter Elliot holds one of the highest positions

of social rank. We can also see that Mary has wed “Charles Musgrove,

Esq. of Uppercross.” The title of esquire is a step down from “Sir”,

so this opening history shows the possible decline of social rank,

which links to the main theme of social class in the novel.

As well as the novel’s theme of social class, another strong link to

the idea of social hierarchy is Sir Walter Elliot’s obsession with the

“Baronetage.” By studying and being intensely interested in his family

blood lines, Sir Walter shows the ex...

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...ion, the opening chapter of Persuasion is a suitable opening

to the novel as it introduces the majority of the central characters

together with a little of their history. The chapter also hints at

many of the major themes in the novel; social class, blood lines and

marriage. The most interesting theme to be introduced in the opening

chapter however, is that of appearance and vanity. The introduction of

this theme not only provides the reader with an informed view of Sir

Walter’s perception of vanity, but we are able to detect senses of

Austen’s opinions concerning appearance. With this input to the novel

we can recognise aspects of Austen’s character reflected in Anne

Elliot. This is particularly insightful as Austen learnt of her

impending death whilst penning the novel which could have had an

impact on certain character’s views of issues in Persuasion.
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