What ideas of Romanticism are displayed in Persuasion? 

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Persuasion is widely considered to be the most romantic of Jane Austen's works.   Austen may not have read some of the major romantic poems to inspire Persuasion, largely because they had not yet been published (like Keats' "To Autumn").  Even so, Persuasion's themes are decidedly romantic: "the self in relationship to the natural landscape, solitude and estrangement, the role of memory and feeling, recovery of the past" (Thomas 893).  

The characterization of Anne in the novel is decidedly romantic.  Anne's feelings of isolation in her father's home make her feel like a "nobody . . . her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way; – she was only Anne” (5).   Austen's focus on emotional qualities of thoughts and feelings as leaving a physical impact is another romantic characteristic.  The characters in the novel fluctuated between extremes of emotion, whether it be "electrif[ying]" elation or being "sick with horror" (33, 75).  Anne often lets her emotions get the better of her.  Like many romantic heroines, there are times in Persuasion that she is simply overcome by her emotion.


Thomas, Keith.  "Jane Austen and the Romantic Lyric: Persuasion and Coleridge's Conversation Poems." ELH Winter 1987:  893-924.