English Upper Classes and English Class System As a Whole With Book Film Text Term Paper

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English Class System

Jane Austin's novel Persuasion, Director Michael Caton-Jones' movie Scandal, and T.W.C. Banning's Oxford History of Modern Europe each portray the English upper class and English class system in a largely unflattering manner. Persuasion shows the pre-Victorian British upper class to be superficial and obsessed largely with appearance over substance. Similarly, Scandal shows a more modern Britain as a society that bases class on superficial constraints, and is quick to vilify and condemn those who dare to aim above their class. In contrast, T.W. C Banning's accounting provides a more balanced accounting of Britain's class system from the late 1700s to the present. Ultimately, these three readings reveal that while Britain's class system has changed dramatically in the past centuries, the ingrained idea of class dominance remains very real within modern Europe.

Persuasion is a deeply romantic novel that satirically examines the social pretensions of the English upper class through the eyes of one of its members. The novel's heroine, Anne Elliot, is a woman in her late 20s who is struggling with the feeling that her
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life has slipped by her. Many years earlier, Anne fell in love with Captain Frederick Wentworth but rejected him as a romantic partner because he was considered to be below her in social class.

As the novel progresses, Anne again comes into contact with Captain Wentworth, and begins to see that she made a mistake in rejecting him based on her family's insistence that she find a man closer matched to her social status.

Persuasion is a biting commentary on the social pretensions that existed in pre-Victorian England. As seen in the novel, this society values appearance and prestige over true happiness and friendship. Many of the characters are duplicitous and shallow, and yet manage to be highly successful in the English upper class of the era. In contrast, Anne and Frederick are honest and trustworthy, and act as a refreshing foil to pretentious characters like Anne's father and sister Elizabeth.

Scandal, the 2000 movie by director Michael Caton-Jones also provides a biting criticism of the English upper class social system, but in…

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Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Signet, 1996.

Banning, T.C.W. 2000. Oxford History of Modern Europe. Oxford Press; 3rd edition.

Scandal. 2000. Director: Michael Caton-Jones. Starring: John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Bridget Fonda, and Joanne Whalley. Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment.

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