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Society as Viewed by Geniuses, Social Stratification

Human society is a rather complicated phenomenon due to its institutionalized character and inequalities that can be found in every sphere. Racial and sexual discrimination, prejudice against the poor experienced by the rich and vice versa are all the issues that modern society faces. However, social stratification is one of the crucial societal issues, and literature, as the artistic forms of reflecting reality, also considers it in such aspects as Gender Discrimination, Drawbacks of Society, and Materialist Values as Basis of Life. This paper will focus on these topics highlighted in the works of such literary geniuses as Robert Browning, Alexander Pushkin, and William Wyler.

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To begin with, the topic of gender discrimination in society is reflected in the poem “The Last Duchess” by Robert Browning. On the whole, this poetic piece is a monologue of Duke who presents the portrait of his dead wife and explains his attitude towards her. Almost at once when he starts to speak, the reader sees that the wife is property to him, and jealousy does not let the Duke live happily with her:

She thanked men good! but thanked
Somehow I know not how as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift (Browning, 2001, p. 25, lines 31 – 34).

Moreover, the flirting manner of communication that the Duchess adopts annoys the Duke as well. The fact that other men could bring the “spot of joy into the Duchess’ cheek” (Browning, 2001, p. 25, line 13) makes the Duke feel inferior to those men and the way out he finds is to get rid of the Duchess and enjoy her calm and obedient face in the painting.

In contrast, the novel “Queen of Spades” by Alexander Pushkin highlights another aspect of the social stratification – the drawbacks of the society as a whole as reflected on separate people. The general topic of the novel is the depiction of the Russian society of the late 18th century, but this background discloses several other topics among which one can observe the protests against the way of living adopted in Russia: “The Countess certainly was not bad-hearted, but she was capricious as a woman spoiled by society, stingy, and sunk into cold egoism like all old people who have done with love and are out of touch with the life around them” (Pushkin, 2009, p. 81). Depicting the life of a noble family whose members are obsessed with gambling, Pushkin shows how badly society impacts its members.

William Wyler considers another negative consequence of social stratification which is materialist values as the basis of life. Being the adaptation of Emily Bronte’s novel of the same title, “Wuthering Heights” tells the story of two people who seemed to love each other but money and wellbeing meant more than love for them. Trying to establish herself in the society, Cathy, one of the film’s protagonists, rejects Heathcliff’s, another protagonist’s, feelings saying that lining “in haystacks and steal our food from the marketplaces” (Wuthring Heights, 1939) is not what she wants and not what she dreams of. Social prejudice and wish to be higher than others in the social stratification system make Cathy make this choice.

So, social stratification is a rather significant issue, and literary geniuses like Browning, Pushkin, and Wyler consider such its aspects as Gender Discrimination, Drawbacks of Society, and Materialist Values as Basis of Life. Criticizing the situation when sexual belonging or financial status of a person can put him or her above others, the authors mentioned seem to admit that such a state of things is eternal for the human society.

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References

Browning, Robert. Selected Poems (Daniel Karlin, Ed.). Penguin Classics, 2001. p. 25

Pushkin, Alexander. Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin, The Queen of Spades, The Captain’s Daughter, Peter the Great’s Blackamoor. (Andrew Kahn, Ed., Alan Myers, Transl.). Oxford University Press, USA, 2009. pp. 69 – 101.

Wuthering Heights. Dir. William Wyler. With Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon. United Artists, 1939.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Society as Viewed by Geniuses, Social Stratification." November 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/society-as-viewed-by-geniuses-social-stratification/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Society as Viewed by Geniuses, Social Stratification'. 25 November.

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