The Reality of Aristocratic Facades

Jane Austen uses her novels to express her disdain for nineteenth century English marital practice. She herself defied convention by remaining single and earning a living through her writing. Austenâs novels, including Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion, frequently feature an aristocratic heroine who is torn between marrying for love or for security. While Austenâs works do not call for a classless society, they do criticize the strict class stratificationsâ effects on marriages. Specifically, Austen laments that nineteenth century English women usually married within their own social class for convenience as opposed to love and that cross-class marriages were generally discouraged. In Persuasion, we meet Anne Elliot, a bright, attractive, upper-class woman who fell in love with a sailor, Captain Frederick Wentworth. However, Anne was successfully persuaded to reject Wentworth by her aristocratic family and friends, who failed to recognize Wentworthâs fine character and saw only his shallow pockets. The central conflict in Persuasion is that of appearance versus reality. Anne can certainly see the superficiality that surrounds her while at Kellynch Hall with her family; however, she allow others, namely Lady Russell and...

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