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Persuasion: The Changing Social Structure - Essay Example

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“Persuasion”: The Changing Social Structure Admittedly, Austen’s work reveals a lot about the changing social and economic spheres in Britain. The novel is not only a mirror of the society that existed in Britain in that century, but also a forecast of the social change that was in the pipeline…
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Persuasion: The Changing Social Structure
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"Persuasion: The Changing Social Structure"

Download file to see previous pages The radicality of this social statement is easy for a modern audience to overlook and underestimate, but at that time, power and class shift would have been very troubling and controversial issues. In addition, in Persuasion, one can see that Austen lets her heroine be able to respond and act based upon emotion and instinct instead of being governed by propriety and reason. Considering the male-dominated society of the time, one has to admire the way Austen let her heroine Anne be independent and self-aware. Persuasion is the only work of Austen where a genuine picture of the impoverished and lower class characters like Mrs. Smith and her nurse appears. Mrs. Smith used to be a member of the gentry, but lost everything after her husband’s death and became destitute in her widowhood. Considering the fact that many of Austen’s heroines are in fact gentlewomen teetering on the brink of poverty, this is a very interesting and loaded character for Anne to befriend. As her father opines, everything that revolts other people is interesting to her. Admittedly, this is the only novel where Austen effectively shows her readers the darker side of the social and economic situation that she used to avoid for far too long. Women cannot own or inherit property, and so without advocacy and support, they easily fall into destitution. In the case of Anne’s visits to Mrs. Smith, Anne’s father says that: “everything that revolts other people, low company, paltry rooms, foul air, disgusting associations, are inviting to you” (130). However, Anne does not shy away from her visits to the lower class which serves just as much to show a critique of gentle society’s response to fallen gentry as it does to showcase Anne’s personal and revolutionary goodness. Upon the story’s conclusion, Mrs. Smith’s livelihood has been restored to her because Wentworth is convinced to act upon her behalf. The presence of Mrs. Smith and the frank discussion of her financial and social troubles is a statement of and testament to the need for a reevaluation of the value and applicability of traditional class distinctions in nineteenth century England. However, here one can seen Austen displaying the remnants of aristocracy that still remains in her blood. Wentworth manages to accumulate wealth despite the fact that his personal merits and essentials have not changed. Though Anne marries him for the same reasons she loved him before the novel started, the reader is left with the problem that Wentworth is not exactly the same as he was before. By the time he proposes to Anne the second time, he has become very rich. Though the novel presents Anne’s remorse for rejecting him before coming to know about his rich fortune, the novel falls short of its intended goal as the heroine fails to admit the fact that money has nothing to do with marriage. Austen has clearly made a class shift; with the qualities she is valuing in Anne and the people that surround her. Nevertheless, at the end of her life, Austen is still not willing to say that a couple who loves each other would be happy without abundant fortune and prestige. Admittedly, Austen has her Persuasion serving a totally different purpose in comparison with her previous works. In this work, one can see the presence and celebration of Romantic poetry. In addition, the tenets of Romantic Movement; individualism, imagination, and emotion are all adopted ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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