Paper1 - Jessica Gimbel History 120 Class Conflict The...

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Jessica Gimbel 2/23/11 History 120 Class Conflict The conflict of class surfaced in the 19 th century as intellectualism and individualism entered the European political scene and made significant impacts in society. As politics and economics began to change, so did the view of class rank, class duties and the entire structure of cultural society in Europe. Shifts in ideologies impacted the social structure mainly in how people viewed themselves and their work. Published works influenced people of all classes to change what they saw wrong in society, which were in most cases, the problems with the middle class. In an era of revolutions, Marx and Maupassant both tackle the questions of class conflict either by advocating communism over capitalism or by exemplifying the difficulties of the lower class both in order to synthesize class-consciousness and eliminate class distinctions as a means of power. In this sense, Marx established a following more effectively than Maupassant because his “Communist Manifesto” reached out to more Europeans with a solution, where Maupassant simply addressed the problem with the 19 th -century class system. Maupassant wrote “Boule de Suif” in an effort to spread awareness of the changing opinions of social classes in the 19 th century. Maupassant’s story illustrates a person from every social class of French society. His characters represent a political democrat, a petite Bourgeoisie, a factory owner from the upper Bourgeoisie, a count and countess, religious nuns, and a prostitute from the lower class. The characters encounter each other because a Prussian officer is holding them hostage during the Franco-Prussian war at the end of the 19 th century. The Prussian told them they could not leave until Boule de Suif, the prostitute from the lower class, would sleep with him. As upper members of
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society, the count and countess, the factory owner, the democrat and even the nuns all agreed that Boule de Suif should relieve the Prussian’s demands. “No sooner was her identity recognized than a whisper ran through the ladies in which the words, ‘prostitute’ and ‘public scandal’ were so conspicuously distinct…” (Maupassant, 13). The members of higher society immediately looked down on Boule de Suif because she was a part of the lower class. They felt it adequate that she be sacrificed to the Prussian so they could benefit by escaping his control.
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