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Gentlemen of Uncertain FortuneHow Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen's England$
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Rory Muir

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300244311

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300244311.001.0001

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(p.311) Conclusion
Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune

Rory Muir

Yale University Press

This concluding chapter offers reflections on all the career options discussed in the previous chapters. It is rather surprising that the large number of well-educated young men, brought up in comfort if not affluence, only to be faced with such limited and bleak prospects, did not develop a greater sense of collective identity and grievance, and turn to radical politics to remedy the flagrant injustices of a society that could treat them in this manner. Presumably they retained a sufficiently strong sense of belonging to the privileged classes and were not sufficiently alienated to want to upend the applecart, but revolutions have been fuelled by less reasonable complaints, and Britain in the years immediately after Waterloo was seething with discontent. At that time, however, most half-pay officers and other young gentlemen in a similar position probably imagined that some fresh war would soon break out, or some other opportunity would arise, that would rescue them from the doldrums and carry them forward in their career. Like the proverbial frog boiling in water, their disillusionment was gradual and they slowly adjusted to their altered circumstances and diminished prospects.

Keywords:   careers, professions, disillusionment, younger sons, privileged classes, diminished prospects, young gentlemen

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