she talked with great openness,

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Discussion | Title: Persuasion (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter 17

Based on the earlier novels, Mrs. Smith is an unlikely figure in Austen, unique in her deplorable situation and unusual for her warmth and openness. She has none of the pretensions and demureness associated with women of her past and class.  Austen is advancing into new territory. Why, we might ask, is she? What interests Austen about Mrs. Smith?  

Mrs. Smith is ill, poor, alone in a tourist town, and without family. Her situation is dreadful, yet at a time when the average age of death was about forty-four it must have been fairly common—a widow, family dead, a crippling sickness, the absence of any understanding of it no less treatment other than a patent medicine like Gowland's, and the only analgesic being laudanum (opium and gin). 

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