Class Representation in Modern Fiction and Film by K. Gandal

By K. Gandal

'Rich woman meets terrible boy who liberates her then dies.' Or, 'low-life woman is trashed by way of lower-life boy.' The modern middle-class fictions of poverty that tell motion pictures equivalent to big and children are a miles cry from the nineteenth-century genres: rags-to-riches tales and seduction stories. Our fictions of sophistication flip the older stories the wrong way up. by way of the astonishing juxtaposition of modern motion pictures and the vintage writings and strange lives of Zora Neale Hurston, Stephen Crane, Henry Miller, and Michel Foucault, the ebook shocks the reader right into a reappraisal of those authors' works and lives, our myths approximately category, and poststructural thought.

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Here again I will depart from standard New Historicist and cultural studies practice, which has “uncritically” embraced Michel Foucault’s conception of discourse—as an impersonal, or metapersonal, reality—and, thus, describes cultural forces that subsume authors rather than discussing authors’ personal experiences of and adaptations to cultural forces (such as shame and reactions to shame in response to the social constructions of race, gender, class, appearance, and so on). In short, theory has been used to disqualify biography, but biography can in fact be employed to think about theory.

With Crane, the moralistic seduction novel, which had dominated the novel of the poor for a century, came to a screeching halt. More largely, the novel of “conscience” or “moral character”—seduction as well as Alger’s rags-to-riches—was finished with Crane. His “fallen woman” is not guilty, and that means she is not ashamed of having fallen; she feels the stigma of social rejection, whether that rejection comes in the name of traditional chastity or alternative street smarts. Another difference between these new psychological approaches was in their initial application.

She not only discovers passionate love and sex prior to marriage and the ribald joys of the street tavern but also gets to act on the all-male Elizabethan stage. The character Shakespeare (in the film) presumably had to smooth out the class theme in his adaptation of his more dramatic real life, making Romeo and Juliet both of noble birth, in order not to offend the aristocratic element in his pre-American audience. Shakespeare in this movie is, like Jack in Titanic, blessed with artistic ability and a lust for life that make him indifferent to money and social status; he only cares about his reputation as an artist, and this makes him irresistible to the soulful aristocratic woman.

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