October 3, 2011 by Kat Richter
Persuasion. We’ve all felt it. In fact, there’s an entire Jane Austen novel on the subject, entitled (not surprisingly) “Persuasion.” It wasn’t one of her best, as evidenced by the fact that it’s not been turned into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Keira Knightly or Kate Winslett (in fact, it took me four tries to make it past the first chapter) but I’m starting to feel a bit like Anne Elliot these days.
Who’s Anne Elliot? I’m so glad you asked. According to Wikipedia,
Anne Elliot falls in love with a handsome young naval officer named Frederick Wentworth, who is intelligent and ambitious, but poor. Sir Walter, Anne’s father and lord of the family estate of Kellynch, and her older sister Elizabeth are dissatisfied with her choice, maintaining that he is not distinguished enough for their family. Her older friend and mentor, Lady Russell, acting in place of Anne’s deceased mother, persuades her to break off the match.
Now, aged 27 and still unmarried, Anne re-encounters her former fiancé when his sister and brother-in-law, the Crofts, take out a lease on Kellynch. Wentworth, now a captain, is wealthy from wartime victories in the Royal Navy and from prize-money for capturing enemy ships. However, he has not forgiven Anne for her rejection of him.
When I first read Persuasion, I was in my early twenties. At the time, I remember thinking 27 was really old.
But now that I myself am just a year younger than Anne Elliot, I am, out of necessity, revising my opinion: 27 isn’t that old, at least not for the twenty first century…
Spinsterhood, therefore, is not the real problem.
No. Persuasion is the problem.
Granted, I can’t buy a pair of shoes without a second opinion. I suspect, in fact, that this is the reason it took me so damn long to finally break down and actually decide to purchase something at Victoria’s Secret. Underwear shopping leaves little room for second opinions. You either want a thong (or a lacy bra, or a pair of rhinestone encrusted boy shorts) or you don’t.
With men, however, it’s different.
Relationships require way more emotional (and financial) investment than a pair of rhinestone encrusted boy shorts. And seeing as it took me five years to stop browsing at Victoria’s Secret and finally ask a sales associate to take my measurements, I don’t see how I can be expected to invest in something important (i.e. a relationship) without at least a few second opinions.
As such, I’m extremely grateful to those of you who take the time to offer your comments and suggestions on the ongoing developments of my ill-fated love life—especially as some of them are truly helpful and quite insightful. But when one starts to combine the opinions of her “public” with the opinions of her friends, family members, previous dates and current dates, things start to get a bit sticky… too sticky.
If Anne Elliot had trusted herself, she could have started shackin’ up with Captain Wentworth a full eight years prior to the start of the novel. Of course he wasn’t “Captain” Wentworth back then (and there wouldn’t even be a novel if she hadn’t fallen prey to the power of persuasion) but what if they hadn’t gotten a second chance? What if he’d fallen in love with someone else in the mean time?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes the people who care about you don’t always know best… but sometimes they do, and trying to figure out when they’re right and when they’re wrong is almost as hard as trying to decide between a teal bra with tiger striped trim and a teal bra with polka dotted trim.
Which brings me to today’s question: which do you regret more? Having listened to the well-meaning Lady Russells of your life or… having not listened?