The Upper Class and Miss Anne Elliott
Jane Austen, it appears, seems to be saddened by the decay of England's aristocratic social order. The study of her main character, Anne Elliot, and her innocent yet intelligent-like persona take her readers further into the core of her foundation of ethics, and the relation of these to the daunting traditions of her immediate family and surrounding social circle gives the reader a fresh look at the importance of class distinction and the clearly perceptible emptiness of the aristocratic society that, in actuality is believed to have existed in Austen's own life. A close assessment of the development of Austen's ideals through the course of her novels reveals the fundamental nature of the central character's relationship to her family, and its direct relationship to the family's moral standpoint, as well as convincing evidence concerning Austen's own values. In Austen's last finished novel, Persuasion, which Christopher Clausen describes as "a vast shift in direction from her previous work," the deficiency of familial love and support acquired by the protagonist Anne Elliott is not only transparently evident, but Austen precisely sets out to tackle the hypocrisy prevailing in Anne's surrounding family. The entire story revolves around the Elliott family, who live audaciously wrapped up in all aspects of life swathed in superficial self-importance, conceit, narcissism, self indulgence, social status and image, projected wealth, all the while snubbing any person not of equal or higher status with the sole exception of the manipulating, deceitful and deceptive Miss Clay, who makes friends with the eldest, and most conceited daughter of the narcissistic Sir Walter Elliott. The most important tension and conflict involves Anne's "persuasion" to refuse to accept Frederick Wentworth, who she had fallen in love with at the tender age of nineteen, for the simple reason of his having had no title, position, or wealth to commend him to...
Bibliography: Cantor, Paul A. "A Class Act: Persuasion and the Lingering Death of the Aristocracy." Virginia: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. 127-137.
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