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British Social Class In Mansfield Park By Jane Austen

2055 words - 9 pages

Mansfield Park is a complete socially oriented novel. In this novel Jane Austen closely describe the everyday life of rural middle class society, its gaieties and hardships, describing a distinct system of moral and social principles influencing people’s lives in that period, women status in the system and female life expectations. In the novel Austen shows the efforts of some trying to break the predetermined limitations in order to improve their social class and rank. Austen pointed out the social threats that might ruin the women’s lives permanently (Johnson, Jane Austen: women, politics, and the novel / Claudia L. Johnson 1988). Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park is a classic text. The ...view middle of the document...

Jane Austen basically focuses on a portrayal of the upper and middle class way of living, the topic she knew most, because she belonged to it. The gist of country gentry and middle class is especially represented by the families of officers, clergymen, tradesmen and landowners. It is not easy to classify Jane Austen’s work. Although, Austen was an anti-romantic writer and her all writing were persuaded by eighteen century assumptions and encouraged by many classicist writers, Austen’s work is much more ingenious and creative with the factors of realism. In the time of 18th and 19th century society was strictly divided into different social classes and completely male oriented and women were treated as inferior humans (Murphy 1968). That’s why their only possibility to improve their social rank and climb up the social ladder was to marry in upper class. Because of unbalanced behavior with the women in the society. When a women broke any social rule, she been treated and judged more severely by the society than the man if he broke the same rule. That’s why all of the Jane Austen’s novels are invaded by the theme of marriage, social class, fragility of reputation and the limited position of women in society. Class and Social ranks were most important signs of someone’s connection, repute and wealth. The individuals belong to the higher social status were most respected by the society and more often they were seen as better human beings. The most common example of an individual of higher rank who trust in a social ranking and a god made social class is Lady Catherine in “Pride and Prejudice” (Moretti 1987). In the Austen’s Mansfield Park many characters of high rank try to stop an upper class man marring to a girl belong to low class whose lack of connections, status and fortune are critical reasons for opposing the match.
In the Mansfield Park the issue of marriage is inseparably and closely attached with the concept of social class, as in this novel the marriage of all major heroines are unequal in term of social status, repute and often disapproved by the parents of their partners due the difference in class. In the novel it is completely evident that throughout the novel a principle theme of class has been used in it. This can be pointed out from the beginning of the novel where three Ward sisters get married into three different social class, such as Maria Ward married to Sir Thomas Bertram which then represent her as upper-class. Norris married to the Anglican Church secretary which then made her middle-class (Austen 1969). And in the last Price married to a sailor which then made her working-class which therefore made Funny Price also belong to working class. That’s why Funny was treated in the Mansfield differently than Norris and Bertram. As above mentioned marriage was the only opportunity for a women belongs to a lower class to improve her social position and ensure the financial security. Moreover for each women it was her ultimate...

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