The Outsider In Hamlet, By William Shakespeare And Persuasion, By Jane Austen

2735 words - 11 pages

In today’s social environment a person can be distinguished as being either an insider or an outsider to their surroundings. An insider being defined as a person who is recognized and welcomed in to the social environment. In contrast an outsider is a person who finds themselves distinguished from the rest, commonly unaccepted into the norms of society. The idea of an outsider versus an insider is a modern idea that writers have described in many literary works; such as in Hamlet and Persuasion. Upon analyzing the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare and the novel Persuasion by Jane Austen, I have come to the conclusion that the protagonists Fredrick Wentworth, Anne Elliot, and Hamlet are all outsiders to the societies in which they live. This thesis arises from discoveries found in the plot details, the way other characters think of them, and the overall outcome.
Within the plot of Persuasion we are introduced to the characters through the eyes and judgements of others, the perceptions of others serves as the perfect window in understanding the place of a character in their society as an outsider or an insider. The reader is first introduced to Anne Elliot, of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, as the middle child of Sir Walter Elliot; a member of a socially important family. From an outside perspective this places Anne as an insider to a higher social class; opening connections with people of influence. Consequently, as the plot continues it is clear in the structure of the flow of information that she is no priority to those around her. “Anne with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give away-she was only Anne.”(26) This description occurs at the very beginning of the plot. Anne is not personally introduced by an appearance nor an action, it is through the narrator that we notice her separation to those around her understanding her to be an outsider in her own home. It is not till the appearance of Lady Russell that the reader understands Anne to have intelligence and sense of character unique to her other siblings and the women of her time “To Lady Russell, was most dear and valued goddaughter.”(26) Lady Russell is a woman of high esteem; very much an insider to society. Her relationship to Anne is very important in Annes self conviction throughout the plot, this later leads to her defining decision to decline Captain Wentworth’s proposal. Anne’s sense of character is reserved, clever and practical yet, “...never seemed considered by others as having any interest in the question.”(32) Others see her as an outsider who is placed there because those around her believe her to be indifferent. Anne is very kind and humble, this is seen on her take of the value of a navy officer and her natural care taking abilities. “The navy, I think, who have done so much for us, have at...

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