Jane Austen's Exploration of Social Destiny in the Presentation of Jane Fairfax and Harriet Smith

Jane Austen's Exploration of Social Destiny in the Presentation of Jane Fairfax and Harriet Smith

Length: 1019 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Jane Austen's Exploration of Social Destiny in the Presentation of Jane Fairfax and Harriet Smith

In all of Jane Austen's novels, she explores social destiny which
seems to be dependent on their status in society. In the 19th Century
or in Austen's age social destiny was something that everyone was very
interested in. It depended greatly on your rank or class in society.
One's family name and its roots as well as one's fortune are factors
that were considered when determining one's social destiny. For
example, someone of a higher class would be more fortunate in making a
good marriage; good in those days mainly meaning a comfortable
marriage due to the financial situation. In "Emma", social status
seems to be very important, especially to Emma herself who says, 'a
farmer can need none of my help, and therefore is in one sense as much
above my notice as in every other he is below it'. Therefore in Emma's
eyes the social destiny of a farmer would not be anything of a high
standard. In 'Pride and Prejudice it is also clear that the aspect of
social destiny is very important. Mrs. Bennet seems to be much
occupied with her daughters' destiny as she is in agreement with the
very first line of the novel, 'It is universally acknowledged that a
man with a fortune must be in want of a wife'. The social destiny of
Jane Fairfax and Harriet Smith are both quite similar as they both
come from similar backgrounds. In order to explore the social destiny
of these characters that Austen presents their background is an
important aspect to consider as well as Austen's actual
characterisation of them, and their social destiny compared with their
actual destiny in the novel.

Jane Austen does not make Harriet's background known to us or for any
of the other characters in the novel for that matter. It is said that
her father is unknown and has no family or fortune. Only 'family' she
has is Mrs. Goddard, who was the mistress of her school.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Jane Austen's Exploration of Social Destiny in the Presentation of Jane Fairfax and Harriet Smith." 123HelpMe.com. 30 Mar 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Manifest Destiny: Term or Reality Essay

- The three authors that describe Manifest destiny have very different beliefs but all use one person with vastly different views on Manifest Destiny and his beliefs on the term. The person that first used the term in any form of writing was John O’ Sullivan and is accredited with coining the phrase but much of this time had this strong belief in expanding the territory and states of the United States. Their views on this term were different because some believed that the United States should expand from the Pacific to the Atlantic or the whole North American continent or the whole hemisphere....   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
1311 words (3.7 pages)

The Manifest Destiny Essay

- The Manifest Destiny is the idea of continental expansion by the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, which naturally occurred out of a deep want and need to explore and conquer new lands and establish new borders. This idea contributed to several wars, including the US-Mexican War. Mexico and the United States had its share of territorial issues. With only four more days of his presidency, on March 1, 1845, President John Tyler signed the Texas annexation bill. When the United States formally offered annexation to Texas in 1845, Mexico, protested....   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
870 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on Adam Smith And Karl Marx

- Adam Smith and Karl Marx are undoubtedly two of the finest economic minds of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively. Karl Marx was a revolutionary political philosopher and believed that those with means would invariably use their power to exploit the working class beneath them, and viewed communism and revolutions as an eventuality brought about by this rift between rich and poor. Adam Smith posited that individuals should own the means of production and reinvest said capital for the betterment of society, a system that he believed would allow equal opportunity for gaining wealth....   [tags: Capitalism, Karl Marx, Free market, Adam Smith]

Research Papers
1114 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Manifest Destiny

- One of the largest and most wealthy countries in the world, the United States of America, has gone through many changes in its long history. From winning its independence from Great Britain to present day, America has changed dramatically and continues to change. A term first coined in the 1840s, "Manifest Destiny" helped push America into the next century and make the country part of what it is today. The ideas behind Manifest Destiny played an important role in the development of the United States by allowing the territorial expansion of the 1800s....   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
1323 words (3.8 pages)

Manifest Destiny Essay

- In order to understand manifest destiny one should come to an understanding of the origins of the term and what it meant to Americans. In the middle of the nineteen century Americans were eager to move west. They had wanted to see the span of the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the pacific. Americans felt that open land meant opportunity and potential wealth. They also believed that America was destined to be a great nation and by moving west, they could share their unique form of government, and the freedom it represented....   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
865 words (2.5 pages)

American Manifest Destiny Essay

- Expanding Nation The United States, as a young nation, had the desire to expand westward and become a true continental United States that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Various factors, strategic and economic, contributed to the desire to expand westward. According to John O’Sullivan, as cited by Hestedt in Manifest Destiny 2004; "the U.S. had manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence to the free development of our yearly multiplying millions" (¶2). As Americans ventured westward to settle the frontier, their inherent superior beliefs, culture and the principles of democracy accompanied them....   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
1863 words (5.3 pages)

Essay about Manifest Destiny

- Manifest Destiny took place in the US in the mid-1800. Manifest Destiny was used among the Americans in the 1840’s as a defense for U.S. territorial expansion. It is the presumption that God had destined the American people to at divine mission of American movement and conquest in the name of Christianity and democracy. In order to understand manifest destiny we must first find its’ origin. John O’Sullivan first initiated manifest destiny into America in 1845. This New York editor wrote the phrase that captured this mood when he attempted to explain American’s thirst for westward expansion he wrote: the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence fo...   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
688 words (2 pages)

Manifest Destiny Essay examples

- Introduction Many Americans in the early 1800s believed that it was the destiny of America to control all of the North American continent. This belief was called "Manifest Destiny." The term originated from a New York newspaper editorial of December 27, 1845, which declared that the nation's manifest destiny was "to over spread and to possess" the whole continent, to develop liberty and self-government to all. In the eyes of the Americans, it meant that it was God's will that Americans expand their territory from coast to coast....   [tags: Manifest Destiny Essays]

Research Papers
1202 words (3.4 pages)

Essay Adam Smith

- Adam Smith Adam Smith, a brilliant eighteenth-century Scottish political economist, had the advantage of judging the significance ol colonies by a rigorous examination based on the colonial experience of 300 years. His overview has a built-in bias: he strongly disapproved of excessive regulation of colonial trade by parent countries. But his analysis is rich with insight and remarkably dispassionate in its argument. Adam Smith recognized that the discovery of the New World not only brought wealth and prosperity to the Old World, but that it also marked a divide in the history of mankind....   [tags: Political Economist Adam Smith Biographies Essays]

Free Essays
4989 words (14.3 pages)

Essay about Destiny

- Pre-Destination vs. Self-Determination People like to believe that they have the freedom to choose to be or do whatever it is that they want to be or do; it is, however, quite the opposite. This sense of freedom is called self-determination. At the other end of the spectrum, when no matter what we do seems to make any difference or when events just seem to happen and we think about them as being out of our control or somehow planned by some force unknown to us (such as a God), that is called pre-destination....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1117 words (3.2 pages)

Her unknown
history is something that is frowned upon by the rest of society and
would not be considered as a suitable marriage partner, 'Harriet Smith
was the natural daughter of somebody', and that 'somebody' nobody knew
as well as Harriet herself. The only companions she had were those
that she had met in Highbury and so, her social circle was not very
impressive. From the moment Harriet meets Emma, she is influenced by
Emma's nature. Emma is a very influential character especially to
someone like Harriet who is very vulnerable and easy to influence.
Emma influences her that she can make a much better match than that of
the farmer Mr. Martin and tells her to refuse him and consider Mr.
Elton as a match. Tony Tanner states that Harriet is 'easily seduced
into believing that it is on the one hand 'beneath' her to love Robert
Martin, but on the other not 'above' her to think that Mr. Elton may
love her'. Emma even influences Harriet to believe that Mr. Knightley
is an option of marriage for her. This is absurd when referring to
Harriet's social destiny as Mr. Knightley is a great step above
Harriet in society.

Jane Fairfax's background is one quite similar to Harriet's as she
also does not have any parents; however her parents are not unknown by
the rest of society. She is 'the only child of Mrs. Bates' youngest
daughter. Her father was a Lieutenant of a regiment of infantry
however died in action abroad and she lost her widow of a mother when
she was just three years old. Her social destiny would have consisted
of growing up in Highbury with her Grandmother and Aunt, and without
any proper connections. However, it is Colonel Campbell who gives Jane
status. Through convenient relations between him and Jane's father,
when looking for a child he took notice of Jane. He took care of her
and eventually him and his family became so fond of her that he
offered to take responsibility for the whole of her education; Jane
was a member of the Campbell family. Jane's social connections were
greatly improved with the Campbell's, she received an excellent
education and therefore her social status and destiny was much above
what it would have been if Colonel Campbell had not taken her in as
part of their family.

Austen presents Harriet as being not very intelligent as Emma comments
that 'she was not struck by anything remarkably clever in Miss Smith's
conversation'. Although she is not presented as a very accomplished
girl she is seen as very beautiful by the other members of society.
Austen presents Harriet with the appearance of a stereo-typical
heroine, 'short plump and fair, with great fine bloom, blue eyes,
light hair, regular features, look of great sweetness'. However she
does lack the features intellectually of a stereo-typical heroine.
Christopher Gillie states that 'Harriet's only intrinsic merits are
her prettiness and her artless sweetness of nature'. She lacks the
witty nature that all heroines must have; this is something which Jane
portrays in Elizabeth Bennet's, which is a feature that attracts Mr.
Darcy towards her. Harriet's lack of intelligence and accomplishments,
which were very much required by a husband, meant that her options for
marriage when referring to her social destiny are limited.

On the other hand, Jane is a very accomplished woman due to Colonel
Campbell's generosity of providing for her education. She is extremely
intelligent, educated and has had the experience of travelling to
Ireland which many people in those days did not have the privilege of
travelling abroad. 'Therefore anyone with travelling experience
automatically seemed more appealing as it brought over a sense of
independence and culture. Due to these factors, Jane Fairfax's social
destiny is of a higher status when compared to Harriet Smith's.
Catherine Neale states that, 'she is elegant, refined and intelligent,
noted for her musicianship, and has been educated to become a
governess. If Jane does not marry, she must become a governess because
she lacks any money of her own. It is therefore very fortunate for her
that she is in a position where she is able to marry well.

After analysing Harriet's background and Austen's presentation of her,
it seems to be that her social destiny is to marry someone of a lower
status. Especially lower than that of Mr. Knightley or Mr. Elton which
Emma has led Harriet to believe that she is capable of marrying
someone of their status. Mr. Martin seems to be a character which is
suitable for Harriet's status in society. He is a farmer, and despite
what Emma says, he is perfectly suited for her. Despite Emma being
sure that Harriet's actual destiny was to marry Mr. Elton and at one
point even Frank Churchill, it is in fact to marry Mr. Martin. It is
clear right from the beginning of the novel that Harriet is extremely
fond of Mr. Martin., 'she loved to talk of the pleasures of her
visit', she even stands up for Mr. Martin during Miss Woodhouse's
'interrogation'. When Mr. Martin proposes for a second time she
ecstatic with happiness and even though she believes that Emma will
have a negative opinion on the marriage she is very certain in wanting
to marry him. It is indeed a love match.

After analysing Jane's background and Austen's presentation of her, it
seems that even though she is extremely intelligent and had great
accomplishments for women of that time, her social destiny would have
been a governess and she could end up as a spinster for she was an
orphan and had no fortune. However, we learn towards the end of the
novel that Jane is in fact secretly engaged to Frank Churchill.
Therefore her actual destiny is to marry Frank Churchill and again is
similar to Harriet's actual destiny as it is also a love match.
Return to 123HelpMe.com