Anne regretted her refusal of Captain Wentworth, but she did not blame Lady Russell for her unwanted advice. She understood that Lady Russell's motives were good, however selfish her father's might be. Seven years let Anne mature, and her maturity brought a greater understanding of love, romance, and happiness. The thought of Captain Wentworth's sister inhabiting Kellynch Hall brings all these emotions to the forefront of Anne's mind.
Persuasion explores the role of the Navy in early nineteenth-century class-structured society. Sir Walter's principal objection to the Navy is that it brings "persons of obscure birth into undue distinction." Thus, he dislikes and disapproves of its function as a means of social mobility. The Navy allows men who are dedicated and hard-working to build not only a fortune, but also to gain respect and social status. His objection then, is not only to the Navy, but to increasing social mobility in society. Sir Walter's dislike of this progress, in which birthright loses some of its social importance, is representative of upper-class nineteenth-century British men.
On the other hand, Anne sees the Navy as a source of national pride. In this period of English history, England was often embroiled in wars with France and skirmishes with America. Domestic politics gave way to perceived international threats and the Navy was considered the arm of English power and the defender of British sovereignty. The officers of the Navy held a charm and an attraction for young girls at home, who believed that they had a reputation for gallantry and bravery.
Chapter Four highlights the theme of persuasion. Anne is persuaded by the disapproval of her father and of Lady Russell to end her engagement with Captain Wentworth. Such advice is against her initial decision, but she believes it is right to defer to those older and wiser, who must, she assumes, have her best interest at heart. Though seven years later Anne regrets her decision to break the engagment, Austen leaves it unclear whether her ability to be persuaded is a positive or negative character trait. Anne is torn between her duty to her class and her passion for Captain Wentworth.
Austen's style makes use of free indirect discourse, which interweaves grammatical and other features of the character's direct speech with the narrator's indirect report. This technique allows the narrator to take on the speech or thought patterns of a particular character, often expressing a sense of irony. Thus we learn that from Sir Walter's point of view, "an admiral speaks his own consequence, and, at the same time, can never make a baronet look small."