One way that Romantic ideals manifest themselves in Persuasion is in the undermining of the traditional importance of social rank. Romanticism was subversive of existing social structures in its privileging of the supposedly more "natural" subject over the artificialities of human society, with all its many contrived distinctions based on social rank and class. Romantic ideals challenged the widespread notion that an individual's value was largely derived from their place in the social pecking order. What really mattered, instead, was the contents of one's soul.
It's notable that, in Persuasion, social rank is divested of its traditional connotations of authority and responsibility, becoming instead little more than a commodity to be bought and sold. Observe how Mr. Elliot sees the baronetcy as an opportunity to serve not his own country but simply his own interests. He wants the trappings of social rank but not the onerous responsibilities that go with them.
Austen suggests a different way...
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