here is a theory current among a lot of my fellow Janeites about what type of a Jane Austen devotee one can be. Either, it is said, one unreservedly cleaves to the Austen of Pride and Bias and Emma, or one absolutely embraces the Austen of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. One can not enjoy both, not similarly, not without reservations about one or the other set of works, even if one likes and admires all of Austen’s writing.
Persuasion is my preferred Austen book. I have actually always found Anne Elliot Austen’s most endearing heroine, and Captain Wentworth by far the most attractive romantic interest (not a rich snob, not a parson, not irritatingly overburdened with a sense of his own rectitude).
Is it to be found in the contrast between the relative extroversion and introversion of the books’ heroines, or perhaps in the degrees to which Humean pride and humility govern their particular characters (I will just keep in mind here that Hume has a bit of a soft area for pride and would most likely like Emma rather a lot)? While I enjoy all of Austen’s books, I do not like Emma’s errors or the fictional fact that she is so often incorrect (at other people’s cost, rather than simply her own). I plainly do recognize with Emma, I simply like her less than Anne.
On one memorable celebration, I took among those “Which Austen character are you?” personality tests (I stand ready to build another, far better test of this sort, the moment somebody offers me a significant amount of cash to do it) only to find that I was Mary Crawford of Mansfield Park, certainly as far from the self-effacing Anne Elliot as one might possibly be. Probably it was an accurate test, as such things go, however such a finding definitely rejects any notion of choice based on recognition with the protagonists of the novels at issue.
Think About Emma and Persuasion in particular. Emma was begun in 1814 and completed in 1815, during which year Persuasion was begun. The heroines of these novels are near opposites, but each unique provides the very same clear, strong focus on issues including autonomy and autonomous company.
Consider that much of Emma concerns, as Gilbert Ryle would have it, the concern of solicitude. Emma Woodhouse interferes in the lives of others and affects their choice making, typically to ill result. She is herself, on the other hand, considered that she is overconfident and fond of her own way, quite tough to influence. It is only through seeing her errors and understanding what produced them that she relinquishes her inclination to manage other individuals’s lives and begins to accept occasional guidance about her own. Anne Elliot, on the other hand, is too easily affected by others. She does not have self-confidence. She allows her choices to be swayed by others in a manner that contrasts her happiness due to the fact that she is inclined to distrust her own impulses and options. Anne Elliot, that is, is on the getting end of the type of treatment that Emma Woodhouse doles out. Anne’s father is vain and profligate and will never follow her advice, while Mr. Woodhouse is placid and risk-aversive and completely depending on Emma. Emma has been the girlfriend of her family given that her mother died. Anne has actually been largely disregarded and overlooked given that her mother’s death, and can put in no corrective impact on her relations. We have 2 motherless girls, each with siblings who are entirely unlike them in character, each challenged with the important issue of independence and autonomy: their own, and that of others in what Hume would call their narrow circle. Emma acts on others while Anne is acted upon. Emma revenues in the end from the acquisition of a modicum of humility, while Anne profits from the acquisition of a particular self-esteem and pride.
Maybe the sort of preference which Austen lovers are wont to note includes a choice for one or the other of the following: an interest in forging independence or an interest in appreciating that of others, an interest in self-development and self-governing agency, or an interest in recognizing and appreciating the borders of others. Emma and Persuasion are both stories of change and self-development and maturation, one chronicling a turning inward and self reflection, the next describing a turning outward and a venturing forth into the world.