Cruelty in persuasion

Jane Austen's insightful and influential novel Persuasion is an emotional tale of human conduct, and, in particular, of the moral implications of direct and indirect persuasion. The impact of the words of Sir Charles Grandison "...there is great cruelty in persuasion..."(VI Letter 34), which highlight the notion that the "act of persuading somebody to do or believe something" (Hornby 2000 869) can be perceived as cruel, that is, "cause pain or suffering" (Hornby 2000 869), will be discussed. This essay will also analyze the extent to which persuasion in the novel is cruel, and will show that the intention of persuasion is often selfish desire, not cruelty. Yet if the persuader is conscious of causing damage, this essay will argue that that can be consiered cruel. Moreover, it will evaluate whether, if the outcome of the persuasive act is positive, it may outweigh the damage done to the victim. Finally, the nature of persuasion without negative consequences will be discussed.

The novel revolves around significant acts of persuasion. One major aspect of the novel is that the protagonist and heroine, Anne Elliot, is persuaded out of a relationship and convinced to reject a marriage proposal from...

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