A Question FirstClass Elitism

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Holly Peterson

As some of you may know, I am currently revising a Titanic novel I began writing several years ago (which is just for fun, not to be published). One of the main problems I had with that story was how inaccurately I portrayed the first-class feelings of prejudice towards the third-class. I am aware that there would be some feelings of snobbery and elitism among some of the first-class, but in this story, it was overly exaggerated, with the first-class screaming at, physically injuring, and teasing the third-class on a daily basis (keep in mind I was only 12 when I wrote this, and didn't know much about life in 1912.)

Now, I am revising the story, and have found myself at a dead end in how to accurately portray the attitudes of the first-class towards the third-class. I would like to explain that this novel was not written for the sake of bashing the first-class, or making them look bad. I am aware that there were many instances of heroism among the first-class, and I am not trying to tarnish their reputation or anything like that. Nor am I making every last one of the first-class passengers seem mean - it is mainly just one person, a girl probably between the ages of 13 and 16, as well as a bit from her parents. However, for the sake of the story I need to portray this character as having a great feeling of superiority and elitism.

So what I'm really saying is, does anyone know how I could accurately portray the Edwardian attitude towards lower-class people? It could have something to do with the fact that this 'snobbish' girl is probably English or American, and the main character, whom she looks down upon, is Irish. Was there any prejudice towards the Irish in the early 20th century? I apologize if I seem demanding, but I just really don't want this draft of my story to be so biased and contrived as the first one, and I know that there are people on this board who know alot more about this subject than I do.

Bob Godfrey

Nov 22, 2002
Snobbery is something which is generally applied to those just below oneself in the social hierarchy. Thus the upper class would claim superiority over the social climbers in the middle class. 1st Class over 2nd Class. Whenever possible, they simply ignored the working class, who ideally were 'invisible'. Even the domestic servants who shared their homes were required to look at the floor as the master or mistress passed them, and never to speak unless spoken to. A servant or employee with an Irish brogue would not generally have been treated any better or any worse. It really didn't matter where you were born, these attitudes were based on social class and associated levels of education and culture, not ethnic origins.
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