Lesson #105: Reflections on nature (and literature) in Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’


While walking in our garden this morning, these russet leaves reminded me of another Jane Austen classic, Persuasion (1818).

Have you read it or seen a movie version of it?

Anne Elliot, the main character, is both attentive to others and sensitive to the beauty of nature.

In this symbolic passage, she walks along a country road with a group of friends, but for the most part they ignored her. She pays attention to the natural beauty around her and connects it with poetry she knows by heart.

Anne Elliot’s inner strength and depth of character is one of the reasons she is one of Austen’s most memorable heroines.

Here is the passage, found in Chapter 10 of the novel:

📗 ‘Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves, and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which had drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.’

✍️ What is it that impresses you the most about autumn (or fall, as it is called in North America)?

The leaves? The fruit? The changeable weather? The calm in nature (not as many flies flying around, for one)?

Why not try to describe your impressions in your own words and, like Anne Elliot, find one new word (an adjective, noun, verb or even phrase) and, based on what you have read, make a fresh and new impression.

by J. E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2024)