Social Class and Societal Rules and Expectations
Within any given society, there exist social differences especially in the line of economic power and abilities. These differences have divided into society into three major groups namely, upper, middle and low classes (Long 2). The societal classes are largely based on the wealth status of the individuals as exhibited by difference studies and authors. A social class can be defined as an aspect of the self which is founded in wealth and resource endowment (income, education, and occupational prestige) and their equivalent particular opinions of luxuriant by others (Coˆte 5). The upper class is characterized by affluence and wealth that support their sophisticated lifestyle. They have attained a state of self-actualization. On the other end, the low level is struggling to put food on the table, and they live a life of hand to mouth. They strive to meet the basic needs. The middle class is trying to be like the high class, and their hard work is all aimed at bettering their lives (Long, 3). In the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the issue of these classes is thoroughly explored, and the pressure within these setting is forming an integral part of the book. The middle class, for example, has the most social anxiety because they must follow societal rules yet they will never be fully embraced by the upper class as illustrated in the following sections.
The issue of employment opportunities about social class is evident in this novel. “I’m afraid that would not do for very long,” she said; “it’s usual, you know, for ladies in your position to have a personal maid.” (Maurier, 7.71). The quote here is meant to make Mrs. de Winter understand that she must conform to the standards of her social class. She is being forced to admit that she has not done as the society expects her to do, employ a personal maid. The point here is that as an upper-class societal member, Mrs. de Winter is expected to hire someone to take care of her needs personally. That implies that certain individuals in the society are supposed to be personal assistants of others. According to Norman Bonney, the community has devised a way that the low class has to work for the upper level (Norman, 147). The middle class strives to be like the upper class by trying to employ their own, but their means does not allow them. They cannot pay their staff well like the upper class, and as such even as they try to be like them they remain where they are economically and socially.
Another point is the issue of women and employment. It is clear that Mrs. de Winter is expected to employ a maid (Maurier, 7.71). The society has perceived such jobs as suitable for lower class women and not the upper class. Mrs. Winter is a woman but she is expected to employ not be employed and that supports Kathleen and Eunsil argument that the wealthy women have a status that is high than even educated men (Kathleen and Eunsil 85). The opinion is further supported by Norman when he claims that the low-class women are meant to serve the upper class even sexually (Norman, 147). The two authors agree in one thing that women are far much more affected by societal class division. The middle and lower class, in this case, are on the receiving end.
Another issue that can be drawn this quote regarding employment and social class is the way the society is comfortable with these norms which if one does not conform to, is considered abnormal. “It’s usual, you know, for ladies in your position to have a personal maid.” (Maurier, 7.71). The word usually implies normality or expected the course of action. The organization is shaped to think specific positions are for particular social class, and everyone seems okay with that (Côté 53). The notion here can be contrasted to the ideology developed by Long Rouse who was of the idea that the middle and lower class struggle to go to the nested class and their efforts are purely directed towards the same (Long 6). In this lecture, he was specific that there is nothing like usual status or particular class for certain people. He argued that even in a capitalist society, those who work hard still achieve.
It can be concluded that social classes have a significant impact on the kind of employment that an individual is under. The upper class occupies well-paying formal work while the lower level gets low paying informal jobs. The middle class on the other hand strife to be like the upper class but all in vain. The pressure to conform to the societal expectations is very high especially to the middle earners who do not feel comfortable before they move upward. Their anxiety is increased by the societal rules which they have to follow.