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How is class oppression manifested in The Blithedale Romance, especially in reference...

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monikam89 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 5, 2013 at 3:35 PM via web

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How is class oppression manifested in The Blithedale Romance, especially in reference to Moodie and Priscilla?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 6, 2013 at 5:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Class oppression can most clearly be seen in the characters of Moodie and Priscilla in Chapter 22 of this novel, where the story of Fauntleroy and his two daughters is revealed to Coverdale and the truth about Moodie, Zenobia and Priscilla is revealed. What is so compelling about Moodie's rags-to-riches story is the way that, having had everything, he is cast aside and ignored by even his closest family members, who assumed or rather hoped that after his disgrace he would just cease to be. Note how Fauntleroy's life is described after his fall from grace:

Instead of any longer seeking to live in the sight of the world, his impulse was to shrink into the nearest obscurity, and to be unseen of men, were it possible, even while standing before their eyes. He had no pride; it was all trodden in the dust. No ostentation; for how could it survive, when there was nothing left of Fauntleroy, save penury and shame!

The kind of life he leads, and then his new wife and daughter lead, is thus characterised by "penury and shame," and as this chapter notes, even the other poverty stricken characters who live around them make fun of Moodie and of Priscilla because of Priscilla's goodness and her obsession with her half-sister. Class oppression is therefore seen in the way that Moodie is treated by his family after his crime has come to light, and also in the way that both he and his second daughter are treated as second-rate citizens by the other characters in the novel. This is true even of Zenobia herself, who sees Priscilla as nothing more than a working class girl and judges her accordingly. 

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