The Significance of Social Status

9:45 PM

            It was once recommended to me that if I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, I should continue my Jane Austen experience with Persuasion. When given the task of selecting a work of satire to read and blog about, this recommendation immediately came to mind. When reading Pride and Prejudice, I really enjoyed the way Austen satirized social class; her effortless wit and eloquent diction made for an agreeable read. If I enjoyed my first Jane Austen novel so much, what would make the second any different?
Jane Austen:             Although I may only be roughly halfway through the novel, Persuasion has not failed my theory quite yet. From its very first lines, I knew that her commentary on social classes would be right up to par with that of Pride and Prejudice; I was utterly convinced as Austen drew me in with, “Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somershire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage…” (3). For those who don’t know, the Baronetage Austen speaks of is in reference to The Baronetage of England, a book which lists all British nobility. Right from the start, it becomes clear that Austen is satirizing the way people of her time viewed wealth and status as she references this book that tracks those of high society.
            Now, don’t get me wrong here – Austen’s style and commentary did catch my attention, but they were not the first thing that came to mind as I perused the first half of Persuasion. What truly caught my attention is that Austen’s criticism can still be pertinent 198 years later (score one for literary merit!). Just yesterday I finished the satiric Crazy Rich Asians duology written by Kevin Kwan and I found myself making so many comparisons between these two novels and Persuasion; although Kwan was published within the last few years, his work has been compared to that of Austen’s countless times as he sarcastically writes about wealth, status, and love. As a reader, it is a pleasurable experience to find novels published approximately 200 years apart, yet still have the opportunity to find parallels between them. The blend of history and the present day has already made Persuasion all the more exciting to read!
            As I make my way through the rest of Persuasion, I’m hoping that I am able to find more features that are still relevant to life today. We still view social status with high regard in the modern day whether we realize it or not, and seeing what Austen has to say about it in her day is fascinating. My goal for the end of the year is to have made my way through as many of Austen's works as I possibly can; I would like to wade through each novel and examine her satirical commentary.


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