Free Essay: Narrative Voice and Irony in the Book of Persuasion by Jane Austen

Published: 2019-12-10
Free Essay: Narrative Voice and Irony in the Book of Persuasion by Jane Austen
Essay type:  Narrative essays
Categories:  English literature Literature Jane Austen
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1176 words
10 min read

Speech is mostly used for communication purposes; everything that one says has a meaning and can be interpreted. Literature is one aspect of study where one can learn to understand concepts in various ways through the rhetorical analysis. The rhetoric style of analysis is one of the ancient ways in which literary people use to analyze communication. This paper will explain the use of narrative voice to produce ironic meaning in the book of Persuasion by Jane Austen. Human beings communicate through words and symbols; however as Austen depicts in her book of persuasion, everyone uses communication with the main aim of persuading the other person involved in the communication process.

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Most marriages end early because of poor communication between the couples; Austen depicts the theme of gender and social relationship in her text through the rhetorical use of irony. Austens novel has received several criticisms where some people claim that the novel is just a fairy tale that is full of exaggeration. Indeed, the book seems like a fairy tale (Meredith, 2010); however, through the use of rhetorical techniques such as irony and the voice of narration Austen manages to take her audiences on a journey of a fantasy world for a moment while reading the novel. At the moment, the audience is carried away to a fantasy world, and they leave the real world; Austen succeeds in creating this effect through the passage of time and change. Austens use of omniscient narrator perspective depicts the information about the characters and their families; for example, some of the information that the audience can obtain from the narration include the family incomes and relationships. Again, through the narration, the audience can easily depict the common knowledge that is known to almost every character in the story. In the book of Persuasion, Austen depicts the relationship between Anne and Captain Wentworth. Through the narrators voice, we as the audience can understand the information that might be known to few characters while other characters are kept in the dark. Austen successfully manages to create irony in the sense that with the narrators voice, the reader can understand and get information that many other characters have not yet known; for example, we are only able to understand the intimate relationship between Anne and Captain Wentworth. The two were in love seven years ago and separated; the audience can know the information through the narrators voice. Ironically, some characters are in complete darkness and do not know what is happening. Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Lady Russell are among the characters that are kept in the dark about this information. Austens book of persuasion depicts the efficient use of irony and satire which are the main elements of most comic works. The exaggeration effects in most comics are depicted through satire and irony. In her book of persuasion Austen successfully integrates the use of irony that helps depict the romantic relationship between Anne and Captain Wentworth.

Austens use of first person narration perspective voice depicts various ironic instances in the book. Austen depicts the ironical instances that exist between characters social relationships in an artistic manner. Marriage between Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot could not hold any longer. Captain Wentworths hazelnut speech can be used to explain the ironic instances depicted in through the narration voice. Wentworth ironically uses the story to affirm to Louisa Musgrove that she is better than her sister Henrietta. The audience has already known that the Wentworth came to Louisa because Anne had broken their engagement. Wentworth accuses Anne Elliot of being incapable of standing for their relationship. However, Wentworth wants to turn the blame on Anne by claiming that Louisa was the perfect lady for him. Austen involves the use of I perspective to depict the multi ironies in characters in the persuasion book. Wentworth believes that Anne Elliot is responsible for their disengagement. Austen depicts Wentworths disappointment through the speech; he claims that Anne promised to give him her heart, but she has turned away from her promise. Through the conversation between Wentworth and Louisa, the audience can depict the ironic elements. Louisas words about firmness and being a character of the decision are all ironic. She says that When I have made up my mind, I have made it (Austen, P. 87); these are not her words but rather Wentworths. Through these words, the audience can also be able to understand the characters intentions. Louisa and her sister Henrietta have been vying for a place in Wentworths heart; therefore, when she got the opportunity after Anne and Wentworth had broken up their engagement, she intends to utilize it. She wants to convince Wentworth that she is not like other ladies including her sister who does not stand by her decision. Louisa attempts to jump the wall at Lyme which almost ended in fatal accident; she says I am determined.I will (Austen, P. 109). While Louisa does all these things to prove to Wentworth that he deserves her; Wentworth on the other hand imagines of her rekindled love with Anne Elliot. The ironic that Austen brings out in this context is that Wentworth considers himself a man of decision and that he can choose his destiny; however, the incident that occurred between her and Louisa proves otherwise. At the beginning of the conversation between Wentworth and Louisa, we are presented with a man who thinks that he has everything under control. Ironically, Wentworth is no longer the master of his destiny; he has to wait for his destiny to be decided by someone else.

Austen has also used the third person narration perspective to depict delightful ironies of fate in the text. The story about Captain Benwick and Captain Harvilles sister depicts the ironies of fate. Captain Benwick was engaged to Captain Harvilles sister and their situation also ended up just like Anne Elliot and Wentworths. Captain Benwick wanted to obtain wealth and promotion before he could get married to Captain Harvilles sister. He spent most of his time at sea such that he did not even know that his bride had passed on. Anne Elliot also thinks that her situation is not different from Captain Benwicks; therefore, she intends to make a difference. She does not want anything to do with long engagements. Austen manages to brilliantly expose the fictional ironies through the mind of Anne Elliot. Anne Elliots over-persuasion makes her loose Wentworth; therefore, she becomes a timid character in the text.

Conclusively, Austens Persuasion book depicts the social relationship issues through the rhetorical use of irony instances. The audience can explore some of the fundamental facts of humanity. Austen manages to leave the audience with diverse choices of interpretation of these events. She achieves this by using different narration perspectives; first person I and the third person narration voices. Austens use of irony gives her audience the opportunity to think differently and also to move beyond the given boundaries of defining evil and good.


Austen, Jane. (1975). Persuasion. Penguin English Library.Meredith, G. (2010). The egoist: a comedy in narrative. Broadview Press.

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