“her convenience was always to give way”: (re)examining Anne Elliot’s Agency in Jane Austen’s Persuasion AND “something is wrong with mother”: alcohol, women, and respectability in Jack Common’s Kiddar’s Luck

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Heather L. Wade (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Anne Wallace

Abstract: In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the narrator and the characters who encounter Anne seemingly portray her character as easily persuadable. Despite what appears to be a lack of agency and a mixed critical response towards potential agency, this essay argues argues that Anne does exhibit agency throughout the novel. Though initially portrayed in moments of crisis under conditions of high emotions and loss of reason among other characters, her agency is evident throughout the text. The analysis of her more obvious agency in these moments of crisis allows the reader to reexamine and then perceive her agency in other, more subtle manners and moments. Furthermore, this essay argues that the agency Anne portrays serves to criticize gendered social norms that promote the persuasion and obedience of young, unmarried females in regard to marriage and social hierarchy. AND For individuals living in Britain during the 1900s, respectability was a major aspect of life. From the upper classes to the working classes, neighbors and other individuals judged respectability based on actions; particularly amongst the working classes, respectability had less to do with money than it did with conduct and behavior. These behaviors included, but were not limited to, sexual conduct and a family's, specifically the wife's, ability to manage the finances of the home. But respectability for women also depended upon one's ability to keep the home clean and properly care for her children. As a result of these ideals and the ideals of femininity, women were typically discouraged from drinking, because it often hindered their ability to complete these daily responsibilities. In Jack Common's semi-autobiographical novel, Kiddar's Luck, the reader can perceive this message throughout the story as the main character, Willie Kiddar, describes multiple occurrences of his mother's drinking. Based on these examples and the historical background of the text, this paper argues that through his writing, Common denounces female drinking, especially maternal drinking. Yet, Kiddar still is able to maintain sympathy for his mother, despite his aversion to her alcoholic tendencies and behaviors.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Agency, Alcohol, Gender, Persuasion, Respectability, Women
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $t Persuasion
Common, Jack $x Criticism and interpretation
Alcoholism in literature
Femininity in literature
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $x Criticism and interpretation
Free will and determinism in literature
Sex role in literature

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