Social Class in Atonement

Topics: Working class, Middle class, Social class Pages: 2 (570 words) Published: June 3, 2013
Discuss the concept of social class, education and moral behaviour in ‘Atonement’.

The play ‘Atonement’ speaks about the Tallis’ family and also the mentality of society in England of that time before the war changed everything. The Social class establishes the backgrounds where events take place.

Social class plays an important role in the novel as assumptions based upon it cause Robbie to be accused and imprisoned for rape, whereas he was not guilty of the crime. This reveals the affiliation attitudes towards social class in England in the early 20th century. Despite the fact that Robbie’s education gave him a sort of social nobility, he was still looked down upon as a lower class member of society. Emily Tallis, saw Jack’s help towards Robbie as inappropriate as she did not want Robbie to reach her position. She also believes her daughter’s attendance at Cambridge was a waste of time as it interferes with finding a suitable match and having children.

Social class is partly responsible for Robbie and Cecilia’s interpretations. There are two acts which break social convention between the two. The first is when he removes his boots and socks before entering the house. She interprets this as an act of exaggerated difference when in actual fact, he did not want to dirty the floor, and he removed his socks as they had holes in them. At the fountain scene, Cecilia removes her clothes before plunging into it and Robbie interprets it as a deliberate effort to humiliate him. Therefore unequal social positions cause tension and awkwardness between them, showing that this was the reason why Cecilia took so long to come to terms that she loves him. She has the courage to announce her love for him and defends his letter when being read as evidence of being a ‘sex-maniac’. She didn’t consider social class when she made love to Robbie in the library and when arrested, she remained by his side, and distances herself from her family. Despite the...
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