Class System and Morality in Jane Austen's Novels

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 702 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 702|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

During romance in England, customs were more than prayer and thanks. In the modern sense of the term, they have referred more to their customs than to politeness, to the way people behave, to their character, to their expression and to their sincere appeal. In late Romanticism, this notion of character and self-expression was at the center of social interactions and was the key to issues of rank and race. Towards the end of the period, the concepts of good upbringing, sincerity and kindness were extended to those born in the lower classes, and that gentleness no longer meant gentleman. 

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Jane Austen is interested in these changes and the meaning of morality. In general, '[his] novels are a fascinating collection of the customs of polite' society. 'In Austen's day, customs were increasingly a collection of attributes of could be educated - and learned from the lower class that created tension with the upper classes - consider that learning morality is presumptuous and want to maintain the distinction between classes, but since morality can be learned they could also be absent in Pride and Prejudice Emma explains to Austen how the lack of morality or the possession of a false morality (lack of sincerity and morality denounced) instead of the truth, a good reproduction and kindness could be expensive to the superiors of the class, as indicated by their geographical position, the most important criteria for respectful treatment. 

In spite of their sincerity higher classes continued to be regarded as the leaders of society, which also shows how honest manners characterize these social leaders and shows them more than reluctant politeness. This sincerity was the key to the mores of the lower and upper classes, because people of higher or lower levels, who had hoped to climb into the social ranks, could learn good manners. Good manners, however, have always had a privileged relationship with the upper classes, because good manners were both an expectation and a quality that strengthened their social position. 

In Emma and Pride and Prejudice, Austen shows the growing tensions in the class of time, everyone can learn or not have good manners, and explores the idea that sincerity is the key to the true path. The superiors have special importance for the preservation of their social distinction. Although the social hierarchy is still maintained, the boundaries between the Austen classes have gradually decreased, leading to both higher class anxiety and increased significance morality as a means of maintaining social order. Until now, the social and financial situation in which a person is born determines his or her life prospects. Keymer explains: 'The rank which is of great importance for filiation, which implies that social status at birth and ancestry was more or less indispensable'. However, this idea started to change in Austen's time. 

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Romanticism was a period of revolutions and nationalism, of questioning the social, religious and political orders, and the end of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a period of increasing social mobility. However, there were still very differentiated classes and this social mobility only aggravated the middle-class and upper-class snobbery and the cry that the underprivileged classes deserved to earn money and had the audacity to climb. Margetson writes that 'the great noble families ... were born to rule and rule', while the lower classes are born to follow and that the upper and middle classes have difficulty maintaining this hierarchy. Manners considered class differences by 'downgrading' or by the refusal of the upper class to mingle with the lower class, but they also thwarted the hierarchy because of the lower class's 'growing ambition'. have learned how to achieve higher social status. This change marked the beginning of a fundamental change that occurred only during the Victorian era: the idea that a man of all births can educate, learn manners, be sincere and win the title of gentleman, like Charles Dickens, Great Expectations. In the works of Austen, the stigmatization of these 'ambitious' men, who thrived through landless trade, was still prevalent in the upper and middle classes, but would decline in the next few decades. With these changes in social mobility and the potential for progress, better quality pathways have become increasingly important to maintain their distinction.  

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Class System and Morality in Jane Austen’s Novels. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
“Class System and Morality in Jane Austen’s Novels.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
Class System and Morality in Jane Austen’s Novels. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Class System and Morality in Jane Austen’s Novels [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from:
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