The author of today's guest post, Ashley Maxson, is an engineer in the Navy, currently working on her first adaptation. When she asked to be part of AIA, I immediately thought (of course), Ooh, a naval perspective on Persuasion - and this particular Lieutenant was happy to oblige! Click through to read her very personal take on Persuasion.
Persuasion, while popular, does not have nearly the acclaim of Pride and Prejudice, yet the love story is no less magical; and those who have suffered under love-lost understand the many lonely years do not in any way lessen the joy found when love arrives triumphantly in their lives. For Anne Elliot, reliance on her dear friend Lady Russell results in her being persuaded to abandon the man she loves, and while considering those factors which are necessary to survival, Lady Russell proved most convincing to Anne’s ultimate decision. However, her interference was no easier for the two young lovers to accept.
In the early years of the 1800s, where rank and status mattered more than ambition and drive, Captain Wentworth’s position as a Captain without a ship or fortune was considered highly suspect, especially for the daughter of a Baronet. It is understandable why Lady Russell would have spoken openly to Anne against such a match, as men in the Navy had no certainty of making money to support themselves, let alone a wife, even if the man in question would have his own ship as soon as one became available (though there was no certainty if one would be available to him).
In today’s society, where people are marrying later in their lives, this gives the respective individuals a chance to make something of themselves, to remove doubt as to whether or not the person brings success and financial stability to a relationship. In much the same way as Anne Elliot’s time, it is possible to select a mate by seeing the fruits of their labor, to know if they possess a good work ethic and an ability to provide for their future family. While most would profess to a relationship built on love and marrying for the same reason, there is the initial attraction that draws two people together, and what causes the attraction can be as varied as the multitude of people searching for their potential mate.
I grew up in a small town, and while some people would still marry out of high school, the acceptable thing to do was to attend college, become successful and then settle down with someone equally successful. Then what is a girl to do when she meets the love of her life as a junior in high school? I was young and impressionable, and listened to my mother and friends as they persuaded me that what I had with this man was a passing infatuation, something that I would soon forget as I went out into the world. I should ignore my feelings and allow myself to experience many other things before I give my heart to one man.
Unfortunately I listened, and I wish I could go back and have the confidence to stand up for my love and myself; my lack of courage resulted in nine painful years that could easily have been avoided. However, in my own Anne Elliot style, I pined after my love and poured myself in my career.
After the fateful summer between my junior and senior year of high school, I was persuaded to abandon my love and not give up on my professional dreams, which was to be a naval officer. I do not think I spoke to my love our entire senior year, such was my resolve to get accepted to the Naval Academy, and by April that year, I learned that my blind ambition to my professional career had paid off; I was accepted into the Class of 2008. Given the rigor of college, especially that found at a service academy, I was able to distract myself most of the day from my lost love, but usually in the evening, after my studies were completed for the day, I would give in and think of my love lost. He was then in Florida, pursuing his dream to one day become a Rocket Scientist, and being quite successful, I might add.
We at least have the luxury in today’s society, especially as a female, to keep ourselves busy pursuing many different activities that were unavailable during Anne’s time. As a Baronet’s daughter she could tend to the less fortunate in the nearby village and volunteer her time in the church, but for the most part she lived an idle life that would give her ample time to reflect upon what she gave up in listening to Lady Russell. I, on the other hand, had my studies, sports and military training to keep me busy.
However, my junior year of college, I attempted to rekindle my romance with my first love, and while it was successful initially, the distance between Florida and Maryland proved a challenge and our relationship again grew apart. After my graduation, I was commissioned and sent as an Ensign to a ship based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And here I must point out that sailors today are paid a salary, rather than earning what can be made by defeating and raiding their enemies. My financial stability was ensured simply by being commissioned, which if this were the case for Captain Wentworth, I imagine Lady Russell might not have objected so readily to Anne’s alliance with such a man.
During my various deployments, my first love graduated with not only several bachelor’s degrees, but also with his master’s in mechanical engineering and was successful at establishing himself as a rocket scientist. It was not until we were to be in the same state that our romance was able to rekindle; we had remained friends, and spoken occasionally while getting together once a year, and while our separation the rest of the year would be painful, the chance to see each other was a reminder that our love was thinly veiled just under the surface, waiting for the opportunity to reemerge.
I was to be stationed in California, and he had just accepted a position at a company there, and to celebrate our good fortune we reunited for a few days at my home, at which point in time we decided to stay more in touch than before, though romance was not a certainty. However, in February of that year, he flew out to Hawaii, and professed that his love had not changed in the previous nine years and as his best friend, he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. Just as with Captain Wentworth and Anne, it was as though the intermediate years, while painful, did not matter when you know that your love is real. So just over nine years after I fell in love, I was able to marry the man of my dreams.
So persuasion is alive and well today, just as it was in the 1800s. Women can still feel pressured by those around them to make or give up a match that is what they truly desire. I hope that should I ever become a parent that I simply encourage my children to follow their dreams and their heart, that I do not actually make their decisions when it comes to matters of love, as this is one area where an individual must decide for themselves who they will love because if the love is real, it will find a way despite everything else.
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