Social Tigderity And Social Rigidity In Persuasion

Decent Essays
Social rigidity and social mobility highlight both the novel and movie, Persuasion. Nineteenth-century England was facing a social upheaval. British aristocracy, whose foundation and wealth was built on owning land, was being displaced by meritocrats, which found wealth through hard work and skill. In the 1995 movie Persuasion, Sir Elliot, played by Corin Redgrave, is faced with leasing his ancestral home as a means of economizing. A naval Admiral offers Sir Elliot a tenancy. Sir Elliot loathes the idea due to his social prejudice. “No, I will not have a sailor in my house. I strongly object to the Navy. It brings persons of obscure birth into undue distinction….” Sir Elliot and Lady Russel are aristocracies. They inherited land along with the wealth and social status it entailed. They are required to live and associate as their rank dictates. Their views on social rank and privilege are rigid. People are expected to know their place but both Sir Elliot and Lady Russel are being confronted with the increasing social mobility in society. Sir Elliot is a man who inherited the two characteristics, which he deemed most important; his looks and his social class. Neither characteristic had he earned so he was predisposed to feelings of privilege and judgment towards others he viewed as inferior. “Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation.” Sir Elliot had squandered his wealth and needed to “retrench”.
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