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Essay Comparing Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ to Adeline Yen Mah’s ‘Falling Leaves’.

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Introduction

Essay Comparing Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' to Adeline Yen Mah's 'Falling Leaves'. This essay is comparing the portrayal of family relationships in Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' (written pre 1914), and Adeline Yen Mah's 'Falling Leaves' (written post 1914) The two books are very different and consequently have very different settings - 'Persuasion' is set in 19th century England, with the central characters being born into riches and nobility whilst scorning those who are not, whereas 'Falling Leaves' is set in 20th century China, with the main characters being the Yen family, prosperous due to success in business while constantly aware of the effect the revolutionary times they live in is having upon their lives. The setting plays an important part in both books, as the characters reflect on their surroundings, travel and are separated from family members, in 'Falling Leaves' Adeline's separation from her aunt and in 'Persuasion' Anne's father and sister's removal to Bath. Setting is often discussed in both books, for example the removal of the Elliot family to Bath, the Yen family moving from Shanghai to Tianjin to Hong Kong, or the need for passports to leave Hong Kong and travel to America, Canada or Europe. Setting also affects the families' relationships, for example in 'Persuasion' Anne becomes increasingly distant from her father and sister after their removal to Bath, "All the toil of keeping up a slow and unsatisfactory correspondence with Elizabeth fell on Anne" And, upon her arrival at Camden place, "Anne had always felt she would ...read more.

Middle

"Captain Wentworth, with five-and-twenty thousand pounds, and as high in his profession as merit and activity could place him, was no longer a nobody. He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet." This shows Wentworth's far superior character in comparison to Sir Walter. Jane Austen seems to be mocking the character of Sir Walter as he has nothing but pride and a title. As well as their triumphs in winning the approval of their families, the heroines also have in common the fact they both lost their mothers at a young age. They also gained a replacement mother figure, Anne's being the respected and sensible Lady Russell who does not underestimate Anne as her father and sister do and is always willing to give Anne advice. Adeline's, However, is her stepmother Niang, an imposing figure who brought her up from a very young age as Adeline, unlike Anne, never knew her real mother. Throughout Adeline's childhood the environment she lives in is very unequal, with encouraging attention and material possessions lavished upon Niang's own two children, while the despised stepchildren received only her contempt and punishment, and are constantly reprimanded throughout the book. After her grandmothers death Niang takes total control of the household, causing her unfavoured stepchildren to receive little of even basic essential items, such as food and clothing. "We received no pocket money and had no clothes except for our school uniforms. ...read more.

Conclusion

An example of this is Adeline's sister Lydia, who was forced into an arranged marriage at a young age and spent her life having constant arguments with her husband. Adeline seems to wish to defy this tradition, as she marries after her move to America, choosing a relatively poor man who worked in a restaurant. She does not tell her parents of her marriage until afterwards, so they cannot try to stop her marrying or, as happened at her sisters wedding, have Niang take any wedding gifts she wished for. However, ironically, she ends up doing almost exactly what she set out not to do. As she says "In a rare reflective moment shortly after the ceremony, I calculated the time Byron and I had spent together was less than ten hours. I rationalized my marriage by telling myself that most arranged marriages in China would have started out the same way." Due to the fact she was so anxious to prove to her parents that she could be successfully married her marriage soon became a sham. However she refuses to admit this, as she is so afraid of failure and the fact that her parents may not permit a divorce, as it would bring shame to the family. This shows the power that her parents still have over her in being able to control her life to such an extent. She does eventually remarry, and her second marriage is a happy one as she marries for love, so, like Anne, she is triumphant at finding someone to marry out of love despite the views of society or her family. ...read more.

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