Sunday, May 05, 2013

Will, Kate, and the Haters (of the Monarchy, of the Windsors, of the Middletons, of Americans)

William and Kate are machines in the tourism and trinket-peddling racket. The Middletons, with their party favor business, knew how to monetize the costumery of the Windsors, so they're Wal-Mart-izing the monarchy.  It would be tempting to say that they're turning the MOnarchy into a Disneyfied simulacrum, but Walt Disney World is an infinitely smoother operation. At least the cast members KNOW they're cast members. (oh that reminds me of the earlier fairy tale that took place a few years ago -- Beauty and the Beast ... the Beast being Camilla...)
.... comment on The Daily Mail's article, "The Making of a Middle-Class Monarchy" published on April 3, 2013.

I’m amazed by the monarchy haters. The majority of people who posted comments were Americans (or appeared to be). Their comments reinforce Frances Trollope’s impressions of Americans published in her 1832 The Domestic Manners of the Americans based on her travels up the Mississippi, up the Ohio, up the Erie Canal, and the Hudson, and to many of the major cities. I never quite understood how she afforded such an expensive trip. The book does not provide much insight into how they earned money, or even who formed a part of the traveling party, except it is clear that there were at least two children, and a Mr. Trollope visited (but was never mentioned after his initial arrival).

 Frances Trollope retreated back to England where she assembled her book from notes, and the published it to great success.  I possess a 5th edition published just a few years later in 1839, and I can fully understand how and why the Americans took offense. The pen and ink drawings are highly satirical, but the text, while humorous, is not satirical. It paints a farcical, absurdist view of early American life, and it’s highly entertaining to an American reading in 2013 who is well acquainted with American mores and attitudes, and finds it interesting to see how many seem to be utterly intact from the 1830s.

The most pronounced difference, however, from the 1830s America and 21st century America is that may not hear so often the phrases that Mrs. Trollope heard repeated endlessly (at least that’s how she perceived it):  “We have the best political system in the world!” and “I’m just a good as you are, so I’m not going to put up with your attitude!” and “We showed your old King George a thing or two!”  Further, I think it’s unlikely that one would hear spontaneous choruses of “Yankee Doodle” in bars and sports gatherings. However, it’s probably worthwhile to see that the American core belief in the essential equality and dignity of all individuals still holds true, thus the concern of universal access to affordable high-quality education, which is essentially both the rainwater and the nutrient source to permit optimal blossoming.

It strikes me that the monarchy haters (both American and British) would be intrigued by Elizabeth Cleghorne Gaskell’s My Lady Ludlow, a novella that was originally published in Household Words in a serialized format in 1858. The work contains many stories within a story that all serve to shed light on the difficult political, economic, ideological, and sociological changes that occurred during the time of 18th-century revolutions (America, France, South America), when the aristocratic ranks literally had to fear for their heads. The book made me gain an appreciation for the sense of duty and responsibility of a woman who found herself with a title and the need to take care of those who depended upon her.

Lady Ludlow’s regime was not far from feudalism, and what Gaskell’s book showed me is that it was possible for an individual to have a great sense of responsibility, and to manage estates with dignity, fairness, and forthrightness, even through great financial and emotional sacrifices. It also demonstrated how some members of the aristocracy were willing and able to alter their views over time, and to accept religious diversity, literacy training for children, and education for girls.