Posted by Cassia on December 09, 1997 at 19:09:57:
In response to Darcy's social rank, social things in general, written by irl on December 08, 1997 at 23:06:58
] Here is a synopsis of my questions:
]Does "titled" mean the same as "noble"? If not, what do the terms mean?
No, all nobles have titles but not all titles are nobles in the British system. For instance, Sir William Lucas and Lady Lucas have titles but they aren't nobles as Sir William is a only Knight. The same holds true for Baronets like Sir Walter Eliot and nayone he should marry. Also, since in Britain only the head of the family is enobled, his wife, and eldest son may be called by courtesy titles. For instance if you watched The Palliser's when it reran on some PBS stations last year, you'd recall that Duke Plantagenent Palliser's eldest son is called the Earl of Siverbridge, yet he he still able to take a seat in the House of Commons because the Earl is merely a courtesy title.
Which brings us to the noblity: the titles are (in ascending order of importance) Baron, Viscount, Earl, Marquis, Duke, Prince(ss) The Royals with HRM's in front of their names . They are all generally called Lord, for example, Princess Diana's brother was Viscount Soemthing or the other (sorry can't remember what and American libraires don't collect Hello! magazine generally)until his father died and he became Earl Spencer. If a nobleman (very few women are noble in their own right) is ranked at Earl or higher then he will be called The Duke of Charring Cross, ect.
] Who are the "gentry"? Does it mean any "landed" person? If so, does that mean that you could not legally purchase land unless you belonged to a certain social rank, or was there more mobility between ranks than I had believed?
The gentry are generally the descendants of land owners and tended to inhabit a few professions: the clergy, the military, law (as barristers until the 20th c when it became oaky to to be both a gentleman and a solicitor). Most people became members of the gentry either through birth or marriage (again, usually females when this route). many of the gentry families had once been local officils or the younger sons of noblemen but not all were. Soem people just had a talent for holding onto land. Being long established is an important part of being part of the gentry.
So although anyone with the money could purchase and hold land, he would not necessairly be accepted by the local gentry until a certain amount of time has passed.
Yes there was mobility within the ranks, it was a lot harder to move up than down. To move up took a great deal of money, great political connections, or a great marriage on the part of one's children. Mobilty in the other direction was, of course, a great deal easier.
] What is Darcy's societal position? (He's not a lord or anything, so what is he?
No Darcy is not a lord, but he is richer than most of them and one of his uncle's an Earl. The Darcy's while not noble are one of the 400 richest families in England. Definately Donald Trump territory in today's terms.
] What, exactly, is a "gentleman"? It obviously does not have the modern American connotation, since Mr. Gardiner (every bit the "gentleman" in today's parlance) apparently was not one, while Mr. Bennett, Mr. Gardiner's apparent inferior in wealth as well as breeding, was.
This is a really difficult question to answer as teh many books written on the subject prove. But I think this is the anwer you are seeking. A gentleman does not earn his living in trade, he is in possession of leisure, and independence which is why Mr Bingley is a gentleman and his father was not.
] One more: Darcy, speaking to Lizzie, refers to Wickham as "that gentleman". Was this merely a figure of speech, or did Wickham in some way qualify as a "gentleman"?
Yes indeed. Mr Wickham is a gentleman in several ways, the most important of which is the gentleman's education he received at the expense of the Darcy family. Yet, as William Walter Eliot states in Persuasion birth is the only true qualification of a gentleman.
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