How are women portrayed and treated in Jane Austen's Persuasion?

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A running theme in the novel, one that Anne Elliot vigorously disputes, is that women are inconstant: it is what Wentworth believes about Anne for breaking off their engagement seven years ago. Much of the novel is about Wentworth becoming persuaded anew of the constancy of Anne's love.

Beyond that, and on a more general level, the novel continues Austen's critique of the limitations society places on a woman's possibilities. For example, as an unmarried woman, baronet's daughter, Anne, is undervalued and often invisible. She finds herself at the beck and call of a married sister who is a less mature and intelligent person but ironically has a higher status through marriage. Moreover, she achieved this status by marrying a man Anne turned down.

Anne, despite her commendable, steady, and appealing personal characteristics, has little agency because of her spinster status: for instance, she has to move to Bath, a place she dislikes, because of her father's decision to do so.

Other women are...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 953 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 29, 2020