Saturday, November 8, 2014

Great Chain of Being and Social Classes during the Elizabethan Era

As we know, during the Elizabethan times, the social class were the nobility, the gentry, the yeomen, and the poor. I talked about briefly in class how the order of the universe was supposed to mimic order on earth. The Great Chain of Being was a way for social class to be enforced. Since the ruler was thought to be divine, anyone in any of the classes that did not fulfill their assumed role in society was thought to be a threat to the whole chain. Not fulfilling one's responsibility was thought to break the order of the chain. This "break of the Chain would disrupt established order and also bring about universal disorder. Because of this great concern with keep the chain intact, people during the Elizabethan times followed their role in their specific class in society. As Ms. King mentioned in class, the Great Chain that set the order of the class was a way to justify inequality and unfairness. People in the lower class who chose not to work for wages and abandoned their occupations was a crime punishable by law. I think that this shows how serious people of the Elizabethan age were about everyone fulfilling their role in order to ensure order and stability in society and in the universe.

2 comments:

alex Monier said...

This actually reminds me a lot of the caste system in India, where buddhist principles still hold significance. The idea of dharma - doing one's duty for the good of society - is extremely prevalent. Whether that meant living a comfortable life as a ruler, or being a garbage man, we have a duty to ourselves and society to remain in our position and to do our duty.

Breuna Westry said...

The idea that everyone holds a significance is a good way to look at life because it provides a purpose for everyone. It helps the whole "what am I living for?" question be answered. However what about how the caste system brings the idea of untouchables into play. These people should not be allowed to function in everyday society or be treated like normal human beings. There is a point where hierarchies just become hurtful and unnecessary.