Jane Austen’s Persuasion
Jane Austen’s Persuasion
Jane Austen is a successful classic romance novelist, one of her many novels is Persuasion, a novel that portrays love. She published six novels that all relate to the theme of love and marriage along with the consequences of making that important decision. While the novel Persuasion is romantically favourable, there are ideas presented about marriage that are not very appealing. The main story of the novel was the reunion of Anne and her shattered love with, Captain Wentworth. Though they were sincerely in love, the relationship was rejected by her father and Mrs.
Russell from a financial and social class perspective. The ending of the story brings us to a beautiful happily ever after, where the engagement of Anne and Captain Wentworth takes place. The reunion of the couple, led to happiness for the two and that was all that concerned them. There are marriages however, that are quite uncooperatively performed. Some marriages usually serve the purpose of financial aid or social mobility for the significant other who is less fortunate, in this case it is usually the women. This is evident with Mrs.
Clay and her desire to marry Sir Walter for wealth or Mr. Elliot and his desire to marry Anne to become baronet. Marriage in Regency England was used as a vehicle for many things (Pack 2012) . Hence, Jane Austen tells her perspective of women’s idea of why they should marry during that period of time. Overall, the ideas of marriage would be happiness; social class and wealth are what persuades most of the women into marrying in Regency England. “Why should the people be unhappy? Are there not landed gentry, country parsons, and even wealthy naval commanders for them to marry? Ruoff 2012)” For a successful marriage relationship involves the dedication and affection of both partners. During the course of the novel, the most successful and content relationship would be Anne & Captain Wentworth. Though their relationship was unapproved and disregarded by the elders of the family, they both knew from time that they were meant for each other. Jane Austen uses Anne and Captain Wentworth as an example, contrary to the other marriages present in the novel to reveal her belief in the possibility of “good” marriages.
The substantial ratio of love marriages to the others in the novel evidently conveys Jane Austen’s opinion on happy marriages; indicating that perhaps happiness in marriage is just a matter of chance. The love relationship with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth in the beginning was very strong; regardless of their separation it is still continued to be one. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago.
Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. ” (Austen, page 177) When Captain Wentworth says this to Anne its describes his unconditional love towards Anne which is true, regardless of her breaking their engagement when Lady Russell discourages her from the engagement. He willingly stated the truth of his feelings which indicates the fact that he had loved nobody and thought of nobody other than Anne.
In this novel Captain Wentworth was portrayed by Jane Austen as a character to show the value of men’s love. “What was most wrong to Jane Austen was to marry without at least affection if not love. Always ridiculed when young women and their mothers go into secure marriages more than love” (wit and wisdom of Jane Austen 2012). In all the novels that Jane Austen has written it showed how much of a believer she was in love marriages and how she regarded it as. Austen felt that love should be shown in all relationships within the partners. When the other reasons of marriage were looked upon it came back to the necessity of women.
When looking at this argument however, men also have the equal standing and determinations regarding the decision of marriage. Throughout this story Austen points out and mocks the characters that chose to get married for security of themselves over happiness of their lives. For example, Mary was shown to be arrogant, complaining, and careless mother because she cared about social class more. Just as much as men showing their affections and happiness towards their partners, women also show the same amount of affection and happiness but in some cases women’s love towards their partner is greater than expected compared to men. If I loved a man as she loves the Admiral, I would always be with him, nothing should ever separate us, and I would rather be overturned by him, than driven safely by anybody else. “(Austen, page 61). When Louisa says this line it portrays that another character who believed in love marriages. This quote points out the depths of a women’s love in Austen’s perspective, showing her understanding of love and how it should be seen. The effectiveness of this line proves that it is not easy for a woman to accept love and it’s just as important as any other decision that you could ever make in your life.
Their union, she believed, could not divide her more from other men, than their final separation. (21. 2). When Anne says this quote it shows her unconditional love towards Captain Wentworth and that there will be no other man other than him to replace her love, it also shows that even after seven years she never stopped loving Captain Wentworth still regretting her actions. This proves that women take their love seriously and that it is very strong. “… is the only man she can love … she in sorrow and lose beauty and youth in unveiling regret” (Kavanagh 2012).
This quote reveals the sorrow of a woman when she has to part from her partner, it uses imagery to better illustrate the feelings of a woman when she goes through this. It relates to Anne because this is how she felt when she had to break the engagement between her and Captain Wentworth; and how much she regretted making that decision. Marriage is an important factor when it came to women especially when it either helps elevate their social status or bring it down. Throughout the story, Austen mainly portrays the significance of social ranking in society marriages.
She pictured out which couples were more successful in the marriages, for example, the Crofts whom were well matched when it came to social status. Most of the women in this novel are put out as wanting to marry for high position in social rank. One of the marriages was Mary, it helps the purpose of marriage but it does not show the real meaning of marriage. “He thought it a very degrading alliance” (Austen, page 18). At the end of the novel, Anne and Wentworth are united but in the beginning they were disapproved especially by Sir Walter because Wentworth had no social ranking.
Particularly, to the people of higher ranks, social class was tremendously important regardless of what the situation might be. No matter what the circumstance was, one does not marry below their own class. Looking at Anne’s perspective, her being a Baronet’s daughter could not marry Wentworth who was not of social rank or it was frowned upon in society and brought disgrace to the family. “Westgate Buildings! ” said he, “and who is Miss Anne Elliot to be visiting in Westgate Buildings? A Mrs Smith. A widow Mrs Smith; and who was her husband?
One of five thousand Mr Smiths whose names are to be met with everywhere. And what is her attraction? That she is old and sickly. Upon my word, Miss Anne Elliot, you have the most extraordinary taste! Everything that revolts other people, low company, paltry rooms, foul air, disgusting associations are inviting to you. But surely you may put off this old lady till to-morrow: she is not so near her end, I presume, but that she may hope to see another day. ” ( Austen, page 14). The usage of this quote reminds Austen’s audience the consequence of marrying of low class.
Since Mrs. Smith married someone of a low class she was frowned upon those who were above her like Sir Walter. “Jane Austen’s novels do affirm the value of a social order is undeniable” (Ruoff 2012). When Jane Austen wrote her novels she was extremely careful about how social class worked in marriages and the importance it gave even for the smallest issues, social class was almost a question of life or death. Marriage was undisputable. Women needed to find a husband with a high status to maintain personal status.
Mary had merely connected herself with an old country family of respectability and large fortune, and had therefore given all the honour (chap 1 page 3). Mary like her father was very concerned about her personal statues and chose to get married to a wealthy and respected family. Since she was married into a family like that she was given all the honour and respect automatically regardless of what she was before. Here Austen shows that marriage in Mary’s case was to upgrade her social ranking and it shows the relationship of Mary and Charles is rather unstable and nor do they love each other.
Marriage here was shown as a social mobility. “…by her pride, the Elliot pride” (Austen, pages 65). When Louisa said this, a believer of love marriages, suggested the pride that she had towards her husband, his family and herself. Mary is completely proud of her married life because as Baron’s daughter she held up the pride of the Elliot’s name and married into a respectful family. Even though she does not lead a happy life, she is fulfilled with the position that she has in society from the marriage she had.
Jane thought the worst case scenario of a woman is not able to find a husband in her own social class and whose family cannot support her (wit and wisdom of Jane Austen 2012). Even though Jane Austen was a believer of love marriages at heart she also understood that a woman without social rank or a husband without a social rank won’t have a bright future. Especially when the woman’s family won’t support her in any way. Respect and Pride was two words that if in any case it was taken away; it is almost as life or death in most women’s lives. Mary acquired importance after becoming Mrs. Charles Musgrove; but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character … was nobody: her word had no weight”. Anne’s characteristic was portrayed as sweet, wittier and overall a better person compared to her sister Mary. However, she was barely respected or seen as a member in the family. Mary’s characteristic was portrayed as a horrible mother, arrogant and just obnoxious and yet people respected her and treated her like an equal part of the family.
Mary, being married into a wealthy and high social ranked family, secured her position as high in the social circle. Still, focusing on appearance and rank as he inserts Captain Wentworth’s name in the Baronetage. He has not changed at all (Adamson 2012). Sir Walter dismissed Captain Wentworth as a potential husband for Anne because he had no title or wealth but now Wentworth is respected by Sir Walter since Wentworth has acquired a fortune putting him stable and rich and qualified to be respected as one in the high society.
This will help Anne gain everybody’s respect when she becomes dependent on Captain Wentworth and will lead a wealthy life. Throughout the past, marriages were frequently seen as a contract to protect the welfare of the family’s statues and finance, especially amongst the mist of local nobility and landlord gentlemen which is always pointed out and focused on in all her novels. Marriage was a tool and excuse to become wealthy and respected. Vastly women took the upper hand and advantage when considering marriage especially if it allows their lives to be prosperous.
They are not mainly to be blamed because they have no choice, they were not educated or had the right to their parent’s wealth, marriage was the only other option for them to avoid the gutters and live royalty. Since women had no education like the men, women had no means or opportunities to make money to live their own life of their choosing. “Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. ” (Austen, page 172).
This quote states that education was not something woman were able to grasp at all, it was given to the men at a high degree and even if women were given education and it was just to read and write a little and that was it. In today’s world the more education you had, the better the career. However, back then, women were unfortunate as the quote suggests “The pen has been in their hands. ” “Men always had the upper hand and the means of living compared to the women, “You have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately, and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions. (Austen, page 173. ) When Anne says this line it bluntly says the situation of women and how they can’t have a job to rely on or anything else like the men because they have no education and mostly women were not allowed to even work in England. They were expected to stay home and look after the house and the children. Hence women relying on making good marriages financial wise in order to live happily. Women in the upper classes had the leisure to educate themselves; however, they, like their counterparts in the lower classes, were not expected to think for themselves and were not often listened to when they did.
Jane Austen’s novels both reflect and challenge the period’s attitudes toward women (Smith 2012). In Jane Austen’s novels, Austen was able to portray the struggles of uneducated people in that time period. The lower class women had no education at all compared to the high class ladies so their words were not considered anywhere. While the high class ladies at least were able to read and write somewhat and because of their positions in society it was easier for higher class ladies to express themselves.
Regardless, of whether a family had a daughter, as the oldest child, the parent’s wealth always ended to the closet male family member and the daughter has nothing. “She had, while a very young girl, as soon as she had known him to be, in the event of her having no brother, the future baronet, meant to marry him. ” (Austen, page 4). In England back in the time, had the law where the property and wealth of the family will go to the son who will be the next in line to take responsibilities of the household.
Sir Walter has no heir; son, hence, putting his nephew William Walter Elliot, cousin of Elizabeth and her sisters next in line to the Baronet title. Elizabeth knowing this well enough decided to get married to him at such a young age to gain respect and wealth, proving that women have no choice regarding the family’s wealth it never went to the daughters. Hence, forcing them to marry for just wealth and prestige. “The gentlemen, the head of the house, like you father” (Austen, page 8). Ideally the head of the house back in the time and even now the men were the head of house.
Austen uses a little dryness in this quote because women were in charge of looking after the house like cooking and cleaning and they were considered as “head of the house”. However, this quote says men to be the head of the house. This shows the reality of a woman’s life and goes to prove that women had limited to no opportunity regarding credit and job opportunities. Therefore, pushing forth with women using marriage has a tool to get the hold of respect and money. She realised that it was necessary for women to marry in order to avoid poverty (Gill and Gregory, 2003).
Subject: Jane Austen,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 27 September 2016
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