In literature, contrasting societal issues, norms, and beliefs are relevant in different time periods. The distinct dissimilarities are demonstrated in the three pieces of literature, Animal Farm, Pride and Prejudice, and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, selected for this research paper. The three pieces of literature from each of the three different time periods help present England from the late 13th century to the early 20th century and speculate the relevance of message to today’s society. The three pieces of work also display the authors’ motivations for writing through the major events of the historical time periods.
Through the three pieces of literature, Animal Farm; Pride and Prejudice; and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, Jane Austen; George Orwell; and Geoffrey Chaucer, portray the society of England in three different time periods. The three pieces of literature, Animal Farm, Pride and Prejudice, and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, are written in the time period spanning from the late 1300s to the early 1900s. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey Chaucer is written in the historical time period between 1387 and 1400. In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” there is dissatisfaction with the current religious thought.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is written in the historical time period, 1800s. In Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, the major conflict is the extreme difference between the high class and the lower class. “During the decade when Napoleon was transforming Europe, Jane Austen wrote this novel in which the main events are that a man changes his manners and a young lady her mind” (“Pride and Prejudice”). Animal Farm by George Orwell is written in the historical time period in the early 1900s.
In Animal Farm’s early 1900s, Orwell presents the Russian Revolution and the struggles of the working peasants under the totalitarian regime. Animal Farm is an allegory of a real political historical event. Orwell takes an allegorical approach to criticize the Russian Revolution. During the early 1900s, Russian Peasants struggle to survive under the ruthless government that controlled all the wealth and the living of the people, causing the society: poverty, starvation, and overwork. Orwell uses propaganda throughout the novel to show the fraud nature of the communist society.
The most evident propaganda in the book is the bleating of “two legs good four legs bad” by the sheep (Orwell 40). The bandwagon is used to critique the Communist government because bandwagon propaganda is used to show that one side has all the support of the people than the other, therefore becoming the winning side. All of the three historical periods in England have specific influences for their societies that make them distinct and particular. The societies of the three historical periods are all uniquely different.
In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth’s characters always seem to go against the society’s expectations. “Most ‘respectable’ middle-and-upper-class figures, such as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, strongly disapproved of the immorality of Regency culture” (“Pride and Prejudice”). While in the Wife of Bath’s Tale, the Wife of Bath refuses to allow men to control her existence and she takes measure to shape her own destiny, “although she is viewed as an early precursor of feminist thought, some scholars argue that much of her Prologue can be viewed as anti-feminist rhetoric” (“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”).
Unlike Pride and Prejudice and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, Animal Farm emphasizes the hardships of the citizens under Stalin’s oppressive Communist reign. George Orwell uses animals to characterize the political dictators during the Russian Revolution to present the world the truth in a humorous and efficient way. He points out that in the Russian Revolution, “all the animals were dying of famine and disease, and that they were continually fighting among themselves and had resorted to cannibalism and infanticide” (Orwell 85).
All of the three pieces of the work during the historical period in England contain major conflicts. Pride and Prejudice are seen as the major flaws of the characters in Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice. Darcy notices Elizabeth’s beauty, but he does not act nicely to her. He criticizes her because they are from two different social classes. “Mr. Darcy had at first scarcely allowed her to be pretty; he looked at her without admiration at the ball; and when they next met, he looked at her only to criticize” (Austen 70).
Elizabeth awoke the next morning to the same thoughts and meditations” which creates a visual image in the minds of the readers (Austen 201). The connotation of the verb ‘awoke’ indicates the avoiding thoughts of Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s thoughts are robotic because she keeps remembering Mr. Darcy over and over again, but she despises him. Elizabeth’s pride for her social class wants to avoid the thoughts of Darcy because she always finds him mocking her. Jane Austen’s choice of words helps all her ideas flow very smoothly in a chronological pattern.
The chronological pattern of the passage creates mood changes of Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s mood changes from robotic to anxious. While she is walking in the park, she is trying to avoid Darcy, but has uncontrollably repeating feelings of him. Ironically, while Elizabeth is walking at the park, Darcy comes, gives a letter to her, and leaves. At that moment, Darcy interrupts Elizabeth’s robotic feelings and makes her anxious with the curiosity of wanting to know what’s written in the letter.
Darcy’s interruption of Elizabeth’s robotic thoughts symbolizes his pride because he thinks that all women like him because of his high social status in society. The anxious feelings of Elizabeth highlight her internal conflict of thinking that she can apprehend other people’s thoughts which acts as her pride. Lastly, the passage analyzed is a symbol of Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship for the entire novel because both Elizabeth and Darcy are clouded by pride, which is stopping their love for each other to bloom.
Likewise in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, there is dissatisfaction with current religious thought. “The Wife of Bath is a Christian and is undergoing a pilgrimage, but she does not blindly trust the religious authorities’ interpretation of the Scriptures” (“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”). The Wife of Bath softens her views of charity and love but continues the theme of autonomy and power. She disagrees with the Church’s teaching that chastity is preferable to second marriage, and she believes that by sharing her bounty, she is closer to the real teachings of the Bible.
In the first lines of the Wife of Bath’s prologue, she challenges scholastic learning when she privileges experimental knowledge, setting up a tension between experience and academia. Chaucer uses the way society viewed women as having only a certain kind of role to show us how a woman can be the dominant one in society because she processes the experiential, and not just scholastic knowledge that men have. In Wife of Bath’s perspective, she is more clever and intelligent than her five husbands who did not have as much of the experiential knowledge that comes from observance and feeling.
After reading Animal Farm a reader comprehends that Orwell wrote the book as an attack on Stalinism to show that Stalin’s communist state should be condemned by world leaders. Orwell uses animal characters instead of the real-life figures from the Russian Revolution and this makes the entire message in the book clearer for the reader to understand. From the book, two of the main characters, Snowball and Napoleon, represent Leon Trotsky, popular revolutionary and intellectual, and Joseph Stalin, head of the Communist party.
Leon Trotsky aka Snowball and Joseph Stalin aka Napoleon battle for power of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) after the death of Vladimir Lenin who is characterized Old Major in the novel. In Pride and Prejudice, societal norms and cultures are reflected by the manners and etiquette during the Victorian times. The manners and etiquette highlight major conflicts throughout the book and play as a snapshot of the Victorian mores. An example of the societal norms and cultures during this historical era is exhibited when Elizabeth comes to visit her sister at Mr. Bingley’s house. Elizabeth arrives at Mr. Bingley’s house with muddy skirts after walking through the wet fields and woods.
However, she is received very cordially; “That she should have walked three miles so early in the day, in such dirty weather, and by herself, was almost incredible to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley; and Elizabeth was convinced that they held her in contempt for it” ( Austen 24). Elizabeth is really worried for her sister, Jane, so she abides by the societal expectation of manners and goes to tend to Jane. Elizabeth gets her clothes dirty and muddy on the way to the Bingley’s house and when she reaches the house everyone but Mr. Bingley is astonished by her dirty attire.
The whole party approaches and greets Elizabeth with civility, even then they think badly of her because of their social status and the societal norms. During this era, society viewed such behavior of Elizabeth to be very unladylike and damaging to a woman’s reputation. Society also expected characters like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, middle-and-upper-class characters, have manners, but their manners are considered very condescending and play a huge role in the society of the book.
Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us” (Austen 66). The wife of bath validates herself and her actions by using biblical quotes and ideas. Her knowledge of the Bible is how she makes herself seen qualified to speak about her experiences. She challenges scholastic learning through social norms by marrying five husbands when men were usually the dominant figures in society.
The Wife of Bath manipulates others by her flirtatious manners and her intellectual dialect to have people perceive her in a more respectable way” (“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”). The Wife of Bath is considered to be in the middle-class because of her exploitative behaviors and her attitude that a woman rule above men. The manners and etiquette in Pride and Prejudice, illuminate the themes and conflicts that Austen uses to better understand the Victorian culture and social norms. Animal Farm is still relevant to the latest grabs for power for people in oppressive regimes around the world. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”