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|Class and Marriage
Written by Jane Marie
(3/8/2011 1:08 p.m.)
The views of class status appear so strange to me. Perhaps the novel is poking mild fun at the class system; or perhaps I am missing something.
Jane Fairfax is the daughter of a gentleman. Because she is orphaned with no sustained connections or income, she is not considered marriage material to a gentleman by many.
So, instead of introducing Jane to marriage partners, her gentle friends insist that she apply herself for work as a governess, persumably because it is one of the few professions that will allow her to retain her status as a gentlewoman. For some reason a rising Cox who could give her a comfortable life was not considered her equal.
However, when Mr. Knightley confronted about Jane as a possible partner in marriage, his objection is not class, status, or accomplishment, but that he looks for someone more open in her feelings.
When the engagement of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax takes the Westons by surprise, Mr. Churchill readily admits he hoped for better for his son. Only when he is reminded of the character of Jane Fairfax does he reconcile that she is an eligible match for his son.
Yet Frank is the son of a man who earns his living at trade, who was elevated in status through the adoption by a gentleman uncle.
Despite the higher hopes by Mr. Weston of his son marrying well (Emma Woodhouse), it appears to me, Jane may be slightly better than Frank's equal.
And I won't even try to equate that Emma thought Frank her equal, but that the gentleman clergy, Mr. Elton, far beneath her.
And Harriet. If Harriet were the illegitimate daughter of royalty, perhaps the King, then perhaps she was at least eligible to marry a Duke; or the illegitimate progeny of a gentleman, then at least a man of the clergy.
Much about social class appears to be about perception.
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