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Porcelain and Persuasion

I wrote a paper on Persuasion for one of my finals and thought I'd share it. Here it is.

Porcelain and Persuasion

“Porcelain derives its present name from old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell. Porcelain can informally be referred to as “china” in some English-speaking countries, as China was the birth place of porcelain making. Properties associated with porcelain include low permeability and elasticity; considerable strength, hardness, glassiness, brittleness, whiteness, translucence, and resonance; and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.”


Jane Austen’s genius lies chiefly in carefully crafting situations which fertilize characterization. The book Persuasion as a whole orbits around Anne Elliot and around her relationship with Captain Wentworth a fraction less. Each character is a reflection or an antithesis of her, with a few bordering the frame of the story who also reflect each other.
The character of Anne Elliot is akin to Michelangelo’s David, if it were made of porcelain. The attention to detail, wealth of significance and depth bears a delicacy found rarely in novels, or in the rest of literature. Her twin might be found in Cordelia, Lear’s daughter, or in Jane, Elizabeth Bennet’s sister, though neither’s brand of porcelain quite matches Anne’s.
We first learn of Anne’s particular meritorious idiosyncrasies, in the description of her mother, though she died several years prior to this account. We are told that Lady Russell loved all the Elliots, “but it was only in Anne that she could fancy the mother to revive again” (ch. 1, pg. 12). Another hint of Anne’s character reposes in page 19, while addressing the matter of working through her father’s debt: “She wanted more… a more complete reformation… a much higher tone of indifference for everything but justice and equity… saw no dignity in anything short of it.” We later discover, in chapter 4, her “lavish recommendations” of “gentleness, modesty, taste, and feeling.”
Sir Walter Elliot, Anne’s father, like Lear in relation to Cordelia, is tragically blind, though more so, because his blindness is never cured, at least not within the confines of the novel.
It would first appear that father and daughter bear no resemblance, not even a physical one (ch. 1, pg. 12)…or do they? A closer look reveals that Anne has inherited one peculiar, important trait from Sir Walter and that is that they are both idealists. We have already seen in what way Anne’s idealism manifests. Sir Walter’s is just as black and white and demanding, though infinitely sillier: “Sir Walter Elliot… was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage… he could read his own history with an interest which never failed… Precisely such had the paragraph originally stood… but Sir Walter had improved it…” (ch. 1, pg. 1)
“Sir Walter spurned the idea of [Kellynch Hall] being offered in any manner… and it was only on the supposition of his being spontaneously solicited by some most unexceptionable applicant, on his own terms, and as a great favour, that he would let it at all” (ch.2, pg. 23).
To make him even more delightfully ridiculous, Jane informs us that no female could think more of her appearance than Sir Walter; he heartily despises the Navy because of the roughened exteriors of its members, and loves Elizabeth the best because of her resemblance to himself.
Elizabeth Elliot, Anne’s elder sister, provides an exact antithesis to Anne. She has nothing clever, meaningful, or significant to say, is proud and shallow, hardly furthers the story and delights in Mrs. Clay, as opposed to Anne’s porcelain.
If Elizabeth is the antithesis to Anne, then Louisa and Henrietta, in the style of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are the backdrop providing the contrast for Anne’s glow. Their description is apt and succinct: they are “nice girls.” Lady Russell even observes, when Captain Wentworth appears to be pursing Louisa, that a man who could be satisfied by a Louisa or a Henrietta, could not possibly be worthy of all that an Anne offers.
Captain Wentworth and Anne’s relationship is the stuff of legend. “… but the encounter of such lavish recommendations could not fail. They were gradually acquainted, and when acquainted, rapidly and deeply in love. It would be difficult to say which had seen highest perfection in the other…” (ch. 4, pg. 35)
When their period of exquisite felicity abruptly ends, Jane informs us, in her Bard-like style of thesis-antithesis that, “A few months had seen the beginning and the end of their acquaintance; but not with a few months ended Anne’s share of suffering from it” (ch. 4, pg. 37).
Page 74 marks the beginning of a book about people who are quintessentially British, struggling against distinctly un-British passion. “Alas! With all her reasoning, she found that to retentive feelings eight years may be little more than nothing.” When she hears from her sister Mary that Captain Wentworth had said he found Anne to be altered past knowing, Anne reflects that because his words were of a “sobering tendency”, they must make her happier.
If a higher degree of calmness can make one proportionally happier, then perhaps Anne was made happier. Perhaps the porcelain heroine was just kidding herself.
Their situations are now utterly reversed: Anne, who was the daughter of a rich baronet, residing in Kellynch Hall is now driven from her home by the folly of her relations which has led them into debt; Frederick Wentworth, who was a nobody with nothing but his ambition to recommend him to those of worldly mindedness, now is Captain Wentworth, who not only has amassed a considerable fortune in addition to the honors accompanying a man of action, he also has relations who are now renting Kellynch Hall.
Anne is required to suffer a variety of pains while watching Wentworth court Rosencrantz (or is it Guildenstern?), but soon their roles are reversed again: Once in Bath, Mr. Elliot is found to be pursuing the second Elliot daughter.
Mr. Elliot reflects Wentworth in his wealth and social position, handsomeness and manners (ch. 15, pg. 170) and in the fact that he is one of the few people in Anne’s circle to deeply appreciate her. He is also Wentworth’s antithesis, shown in his despicable dealings with Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Clay (the antitheses of each other) and his less than honest pursuit of Anne.
The un-desirableness of Mr. Elliot is unearthed, through the aid of Mrs. Smith’s friendship with Anne; in addition, all circumstances aid each other in mounting to the day in the White Hart.
One insignificant object contains all the significance for two persons’ past, present and future. Another insignificant object is the means for uncovering it. Wentworth, after leaving the room, comes back into it, he has “forgotten” (quotes are mine) his gloves! Under cover of this action, he gives a piece of paper to Anne – the piece of paper bearing eight years worth of resolution and reconciliation.
“On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her. Anything was possible, anything might be defied rather than suspense” (ch. 23, pg. 284). She proceeds to risk everything British by reading this dynamic epistle in public, just as Wentworth risked everything British by writing in public.
In a stroke so masterful it would make Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Mozart applaud, their entire relationship, eight years and a whole novel are consummated in “a word, a look” (ch. 23, pg. 286). It is the summation of their relationship – they are uniquely fitted to each other, to be able to know each other in every sense of the word. They know everything in each other and can exchange an entire conversation, an entire relationship in a glance.
The joining of Anne and Wentworth is the ultimate resolution: They reflect each other, know each other, and fit together organically.

Ne Me Quitte Pas

Ne me quitte pas
Il faut oublier
Tout peut s'oublier
Qui s'enfuit deja
Oublier le temps
Des malentendus
Et le temps perdu
A savoir comment
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
A coups de pourquoi
Le coeur du bonheur
Ne me quitte pas (4 fois)

Moi je t'offrirai
Des perles de pluie
Venues de pays
Où il ne pleut pas
Je creuserai la terre
Jusqu'apres ma mort
Pour couvrir ton corps
D'or et de lumière
Je ferai un domaine
Où l'amour sera roi
Où l'amour sera loi
Où tu seras reine
Ne me quitte pas (4 fois)

Ne me quitte pas
Je t'inventerai
Des mots insensés
Que tu comprendras
Je te parlerai
De ces amants là
Qui ont vu deux fois
Leurs coeurs s'embraser
Je te racont'rai
L'histoire de ce roi
Mort de n'avoir pas
Pu te rencontrer
Ne me quitte pas (4 fois)

On a vu souvent
Rejaillir le feu
De l'ancien volcan
Qu'on croyait trop vieux
Il est paraît-il
Des terres brûlées
Donnant plus de blé
Qu'un meilleur avril
Et quand vient le soir
Pour qu'un ciel flamboie
Le rouge et le noir
Ne s'épousent-ils pas
Ne me quitte pas (4 fois)

Ne me quitte pas
Je ne vais plus pleurer
Je ne vais plus parler
Je me cacherai là
À te regarder
Danser et sourire
Et à t'écouter
Chanter et puis rire
Laisse-moi devenir
L'ombre de ton ombre
L'ombre de ta main
L'ombre de ton chien
Ne me quitte pas (4 fois)


This what I want:

I want to rescue and heal women and children who have been abused, sold into the sex slave trade. I want to witness grand healings. I want to serve YAHWEH, the Great Creator, the Only One, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega.

I want to serve Him. I want to accomplish Great Things.

I want to be a beautiful woman. I want to be a womanly woman. I want to be the kind of woman that a man wants. I want to be the kind of woman that reflects GOD.

I want to be a superhero.

I want to be made perfect in my Jesus.

I want to be able to have the kind of persuasiveness and charisma that will draw people to Jesus, and convince them that His teachings are TRUE.

I want to be beautiful. Did I say that already? Oh well.

I want everybody to like me.

I want to learn everything about opera, drama, literature and everything.

I want to share my soul with someone.

I want to play Beatrice when I'm twenty-five/thirty.

I don't want EVER to be typecast.

I want love and respect in equal measure.

I want people to respect the decisions I make and not assume that they're old-fashioned. The decisions I make are NEW fashioned! I go against the tide of my peers, and I'm aware of it every second. My life is an adventure and I want to live with no regrets.

I want to have the power of AWESOMENESS!


And if pplz thinkz of steelin mah cheezburger, is wtf n00b, I is gonna PWNED u lolz.

2 And if sumone toucheded teh smelleh stuff he is smelly and no get cheezburger.

3 And if he toucheded sumone who no shower he becomes stinky, lyke omg srysly.

4 And if a kitteh who masturbates with a peniz shall mak buttsecks to an0ther kitteh who als0 masturbates with a peniz, both kittehs shall be banned from ExBockz live.

5 And if he sez he is steelin bucket he also no get cheezburger, kthx.

6 If he stealz mah cheezburger he has to sez so, MAH STEELIN CHEEZBURGER: LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.7 And he has to bring Ceiling Cat a largeder cheezburger.

8 If he cantz bring largeder mebbe 2 medium size cheezburger, is ok, srysly.9 And he shallz brings them to Ceiling Cats d00d and sez "O hai, I bringz you cheezburger, dont PWNED me! Kthx."10 Then Ceiling Cat will eat cheezburger, n sumtimes mebbe he share, lolz.11 And if they give Ceiling Cat second Cheezburger and he sez, omg cant eat no moar, so is ok, kthx.thenz da celing cat is lyke go on then one more big mac so he ganz to macdonalds and the guy behind da counter waz lyke wtf its da ceiling cat omg. tehn al da guyz wuz lyke rofl 3 cheezeburgers and counting rofl and celing cat wuz lyke lmaoim still hungry.

12 And if kitteh already eated it, kitteh bringz tha ceiling Cat moar cheezburgers, non-gooey variety.

15 and Ceiling Cat sez to Moseskitteh:

16 an if kitteh sins an dun no it, iz still wanting cheezburger.

17 but tha nicey man at Macdonalds, he noms it an it ok again.

18 youz doing bad no matter what youz doin anyway. So dis stuff WELL IMPORTANT. Srsly.

19 if cheezburger r not tha double-meat, youz no can even do lambburgerz. Must be cheezy. Must has tha double-meat.

20 oh and btw, if youz giving the lamburger, you no can has cheezburger. kthanxbai.
1. My mother got cancer.

2. My mother had surgery.

3. The doctors were way wrong about my mother's cancer, and she had to go through 5 weeks of chemo/radiation.

4. My brother moved out and I miss him.

5. I discovered that the man I loved more than life is a bastard.

6. My best friend graduated college and is moving far away from me for who knows how long and who knows what the future holds?

7. My grandad's wife had surgery, the doctor slipped and cut a HOLE in her colon, and killed her through malpractice.

8. I'm having issues with my roommate because the man I was in love with kissed her and I suspicion she wanted him to. I have a lot of bitterness against her, because I wish it had been me, and because she came sobbing into my room and expected me to support her when what she was telling me was killing me. I'm trying to let go of this, and I'm trying to get over him, and trying not to hate him and thinking about talking to him...do I talk to him? Should I get his side of the story? Is it any of my business? We were friends at one point. Are we still friends? Do I even know him anymore?

9. I contracted bronchitis at the beginning of a 10-day, 16 show run of A Christmas Carol, had to perform with a fever and I'm just now beginning to get over it. But now I've got a week of Madrigal Feast rehearsals/performances.

10. My mother is better, but is going in for a PET scan at the end of December, to see if the cancer's still all gone and I'm terrified.

To Sing

I need to sing. I can't explain it satisfactorily. I could just say that scientifically speaking, singing releases endorphins in the body, which make one feel happy and at peace, and that is of course, true. But why is it more true for some people than for others?

Does music serve a biologically enhancing purpose, to make us more "fit"? Does it increase our chances of survival? Not really. Not enough to make it important. So why IS it so important? Why is art of all forms so important, or why do we think it is? Why, during the Reformation, when music and art were being systematically thrown out as a rebellion against the Catholics, were artists committing suicide? Is it that important? Is it?

Yes. A thousand times yes. The answer is not "Music enhances homo sapiens to make them more fit for survival in the natural world", because the question is the wrong one. The question is, "Are humans intrinsically spiritual in every matter and does music affect their spirituality?"