Individual in Society

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Comparative essay

The elective ‘the individual in society’ explores the conflict between autonomy and the social conventions that inscribe human behaviour. All societies require conformity, and fear of rejection can allow an individual to compromise their values in order to be accepted. The social constraints of any society can only be understood within their context and both Persuasion and Muriel’s wedding explore the superficial paradigms of marriage, friendship and social class. The restrictive Georgian society in Persuasion where patriarchal institutions position women as objects of economic exchange serves to limit their individuality, whilst Muriel’s wedding offers insight into the social codes that confine the individual both emotionally and physically. When comparing both texts, the fickle nature of romance is incoherent outside of its contextual parameters. This essay also highlights the distinctive difference between the individual’s attributes compared to other characters. In Persuasion by Jane Austen emotional and physical boundaries are placed by society restricting individuals such as Anne. Superficial values including class, status, marriage and appearance are held with high importance for many characters such as for Sir Walter Elliot. This is shown through ‘vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character. Vanity of person and of situation’. The repetition ‘Vanity’ is used to exemplify Sir Walter’s pride and stupidity of ‘person’ meaning appearance and beauty and ‘situation’ meaning status. By her use of irony in his comment Anne gives a subtle moral judgement on Sir Walter, and all who possess his qualities of vanity and stupidity. In Muriel’s Wedding by PJ Hogans also depicts the importance of superficial values such as reputation among the characters. This is shown when Muriel’s friend Nicole uses satire “We don't want you hanging around us anymore”. The use of satire adds humour to criticize Muriel’s friend exaggerated...
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