Viewpoint of the narrator

Third person narrative

Like the rest of Jane Austen's novels, Persuasion is told in the third person. Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were originally written in the epistolary form, but later changed to the third person because of the advantages of this viewpoint:

  • It gives the narrator the opportunity to engage with - and judge - the characters
  • The experiences of all the characters, including the main figures, are presented as if the reader was an invisible observer
  • The narrative voice claims to be omniscient (all-knowing), able not only to give a reliable and truthful account of events but also to enter the minds of many of the characters
  • The story can be told with objectivity and control.

Point of view

The third person narrator can be closely linked with the author in the reader's mind, but it is important to note that the voice of the narrator is separate from Jane Austen's voice. Jane Austen's novels are told from the point of view of the heroine through the narrator. Because Anne Elliot is the most mature of Jane Austen's heroines, she has a more accurate perception of what is going on than the heroines of previous novels. After the first three chapters, the story is told increasingly from Anne's perspective: we see what she sees and hear what she hears, and can trust her interpretation of people and events:

  • She has already suffered and grown through her failed engagement to - and estrangement from - Captain Wentworth, thus gaining maturity and wisdom
  • Anne is Jane Austen's most reflective heroine, who is always observing and analysing what is going on around her
  • The only area she misinterprets is Captain Wentworth's true feelings towards her
  • Only occasionally does Jane Austen step in with a distinct authorial voice.
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