A Note on the Use of Landscape in 'Persuasion'

G.A. Wilkes


'She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older'. Apt enough as a history of Anne Elliot, this account has been made to embrace Persuasion itself, and the development of Jane Austen's art as a novelist. Everyone would agree that Persuasion is a novel in which the heroine's consciousness comes to pervade the narrative, that it is marked by a new romantic feeling, and that it displays a more sensitive response to landscape. Yet the walk across the autumn fields at Uppercross, so focal to all these concerns, continues to be very vaguely characterized. It has been referred to as 'Anne's meditation on the decline of the year and happiness, youth and hope', although no 'meditation' takes place; it has been seen as presenting an 'intimate sense of landscape', although this intimacy is not easy to find in the text; and when is is described as a 'nearly lyric episode', resembling 'an Ode to Autumn in three stanzas', we may wonder if Jane Austen is becoming soft in the head. Although much of the point of view in Persuasion may be surrendered to Anne Elliot, the narrator retains a firm ironical control.

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