The Social Upheaval in Persuasion by Jane Austin Essay

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In the novel Persuasion, Jane Austin presents a story about the marriage of the main character Anne Elliot. In doing so she paints a picture of British society in the early 1800s when Britain was ending it’s war with France. She writes of the British Empire, which is characterized by the Navy officers returning home, and she writes of the social divisions of the time in the form of the distinction between the different classes of society. The major change that seems to be occurring in the novel at this time is the social upheaval caused by Navy men returning from war with enough prestige and money to associate with (and even marry) those of the old landowning class. This is characterized by Anne’s reunion with Frederick Wentworth, a Navy …show more content…
Smith, at Westgate buildings. Mrs. Smith is a widow with such a common name and living in less lavish apartments than the Elliots, so Anne’s father deems Mrs. Smith a “disgusting association” (Austen, 187). This objection explicitly shows the division between the classes still present in the early 1800s. It is not until Frederick returns as a Captain of the Royal Navy that he is able to bridge the gap between the classes. This reflects a certain impact that the Navy had in British society. Jane Austin writes about the Navy favorably. It is clear that when the novel takes place there is a certain fascination with the Navy by the fact that it is so prevalent throughout the novel. In the first chapter Anne considers the Navy to have “done so much,” possibly alluding to Britain’s victories against France (Austen, 21). Returning Navy officers are respected and regarded as worthy of association by families such as the Elliots. This is evidenced by the novels initial event of Sir Walter Elliot agreeing to let his estate out to Admiral Croft and his wife (Austen, 28). This is possible because many officers like Admiral Croft returned from the war as wealthy men (Austen, 19). Later Captain Frederick Wentworth is deemed an agreeable suitor for the Musgroves, another old landowning family of slightly lower status than the Elliots (Austen, 32). This is because he has a great

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