Austen’s Persuasion: Status, Rank and Class

Lesson rationale

Through these activities, students will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of what gave Jane Austen’s contemporaries status in their society; how important a person’s rank and position in society was and how knowing the signals of wealth and position was seen to be of paramount importance. Students can also develop a broader understanding of Austen’s views of her society and the contrasting values she expresses through the characters of Anne Elliot and others.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • What messages were young girls given about expected or suitable behaviours, skills and knowledge in the late 18th century?
  • How might accepting the advice for identifying The Elegant Girl prepare you for a place in a particular class of society?
  • How different are the expectations for young men and their identities (in comparison to young women’s) as expressed through Fordyce’s Addresses to Young Men?