Jane Austen’s last completed novel Persuasion begins with a book — with the book, as indeed John Debrett’s The Baronetage of England was for the aristocratic families in Austen’s time. A listing in Debrett’s was a clear indication of social standing in Regency Britain,…
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Sandwiched between her older sister Elizabeth who stands in for her mother in her widowed father’s esteem and affection and her younger sister Mary who has made and advantageous and fruitful marriage to a young man due to inherit his own landed estate, Anne’s curious social position allows her a possibility of social mobility that echoes the social shifts taking place across Europe. As a woman, Anne’s social position would be inherently precarious, dependent on her father first and then on the man she married. The undefined nature of an unmarried woman’s social standing gave young women a certain social mobility that was universally acknowledged. A young woman could marry her way into improved social standing – as Austen’s two Miss Bennets do with their marriages to Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice – or, as Lady Russell warns Anne Elliot in Persuasion, a bad marriage could plunge a poor young woman “into a state of most wearing, anxious, youth-killing dependance.” (1158) As a member of the early-nineteenth century aristocracy, Anne is a member of a landed gentry that makes dubious claims about the inherent nobility of birth. For every prudent, thoughtful aristocrat like Emma’s Mr. Knightley, there is an equal an opposite aristocrat in the style of Anne’s father. Sir Walter takes inordinate pride in his ownership of Kellynch Hall and his storied family tree, but he himself has frittered away his family fortune to the point that he must lease his ancestral home in order to maintain his lifestyle. Tellingly, Sir Walter’s lessee is no landed gentleman or wealthy second son of a gentleman but a professional man, an admiral in the British navy, who can afford the rent and upkeep of the estate. Perhaps most interestingly, as a rational person, Anne is willing to be persuaded, as the novel’s title suggests. Though she has a healthy appreciation for tradition, Anne appreciates – and responds to – plain good
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However, his character is developed through a sense of ’otherness’ which means that he is outside of the human condition, not only for his affliction of vampirism, but for his nature for being foreign. His accent, his customs, and his cultural influences position him as a threat.
Her plots are based on the female education as her heroine approach towards self realization and find her own world and place in the society while the others are restricted physically, financially and morally. Critics argue that Austen’s heroine supports the present social structure by defying her own desires and this is what exactly Ann does in Persuasion when she rejects Wentworth at first.
The novel shows a number of similarities that exist between Austen’s novel and Gothic romance. The relationship between the two is the fact that they both portray marriage as the ultimate goal in a woman’s life (Ghosal 262). The characterization of Catherine by the author as a young girl who is active acts as a sign that freedom is real.
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