Category: Gender | Type: Historical | Title: Persuasion (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter 5


The larger issue here, common also to Fanny in Mansfield Park, is how "usefulness" fulfills the personality of an unmarried woman in a household. Being useful goes well beyond duty to be an expression of her very being. To render her unnecessary is to deny her a reasonably full existence as a woman. In the next paragraph we learn of Anne's deliberate marginalization because of Mrs. Clay's being "of so much use, while Anne could be of none...."

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