The novel Persuasion written by Jane Austen tells the story of two lovers, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth who are not allowed to marry because Anne’s parents are prejudiced against Frederick. Jane Austen uses third-person narrator in order to portray characters and their actions. Overall, this novel presents a sharp critique of the social norms established in the British society at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In particular, the writer shows that a person’s lineage could be the only criterion according to which his/her worth could be measured. More importantly, the writer shows how destructive such attitudes are. This goal is achieved with the help of foreshadowing, formal language, and symbols.
It should be noted that the narrator of the novel uses direct speech in order to capture the attitudes and feelings of characters. The story-teller wants to remain impartial, but one can learn more about a person’s worldviews. For instance, one can mention Sir Walter Elliot who explains the reasons why he dislikes naval officers. For example, he describes the navy “as a means of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising men to honours which their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of” (Austen 20). This phrase indicates at a very somber and pompous tone. The quotation, which has been included, includes the words that are attributed to the official or formal style. Nevertheless, such word choices could be typical of people representing the aristocracy. It should be mentioned that the characters of the story often use the word honor to describe the high social status. The frequent use of this word shows that some of the characters could be extremely pre-occupied with social standing and prestige.
The structure of the novel is important for understanding the themes explored by the writer. For example, at the beginning, the author introduces the Elliots. In particular, the readers learn that these people represent the land-owning aristocracy. However, despite their social prominence, they also struggle with economic significant difficulties. This is why they decide to move to a less expensive house. It should be mentioned that at that time, many of the aristocratic families could struggle with such difficulties (Bush 167). The introduction enables the author to showcase the values of these people. Furthermore, this description is important for understanding why Anne was made to reject Frederick’s marriage proposal. Overall, this technique of plot development is called foreshadowing, and it helps readers predict the decisions of characters and their actions. As it has been said before, Jane Austen applies third-person narrators, and in this way she tries to reflect the opinions of people like Anne, Frederick, and Sir Walter.
Additionally, one should also examine the imagery and symbolism in this novel. For example, it is possible to speak about Kellynch Hall. It is not only a big house in which the members of the Elliot family. This house can be regarded as the symbol of high social standing, prestige, and prominence. Additionally, much attention should be paid to the book called Baronetage cherished by Sir Walter (Austen 1). One should keep in mind that it is the list of the most distinguished aristocratic families in Great Britain. For some members of the Elliott family, this book represents prestige. Overall, the author shows that the values of these people are very superficial because they have nothing else to be proud of (Jones 169).
On the whole, Jane Austen is able to highlight the flaws of the norms and standards which emerged in England. In particular, the writer is able to show that many representatives of the aristocracy could be very superficial in their assessment of other people and disregarded their achievements. The author relies on various techniques such as the use of a very formal style, foreshadowing, and symbols in order to illustrate the superficial attitudes and values of these people. The main impact of this novel is that it has contributed to the transformation of the public opinion, elimination of social prejudices. Moreover, it made people emphasize with self-made individuals such as Frederick Wentworth.
Austen, Jane. Persuasion, London: Middleton Classics, 2013. Print.
Bush, Michael. The English Aristocracy: A Comparative Synthesis, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984. Print.
Jones, Darryl. Jane Austen, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print.