And to what should it oblige me

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover( page 284, chapter 13) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):

Noblesse oblige! You and your ruling class!’
‘And to what should it oblige me? To have a lot of unnecessary emotions about my game-keeper? I refuse. I leave it all to my evangelist.’


I feel the declarative sentence might be: it oblige something to me. But what does it refer to? And I only saw oblige somebody to do something, never saw oblige something to somebody. So what's the meaning of the sentence in blue please?
Thank you in advance
 
  • kency

    Senior Member
    English - SE England
    'Noblesse oblige' is a French phrase. It describes the idea that powerful people have a responsibility to care for people without power.

    The sentence means: "And to what should Noblesse Oblige oblige me?"
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you. But could you rephrase it? I'm still not clear about its meaning, especially the usage of oblige. Does it mean: to what degree should it force me?
     

    kency

    Senior Member
    English - SE England
    "What should 'Noblesse Oblige' require me to do?"
    or
    "What should 'Noblesse Oblige' make me responsible for?"
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    Since oblige in the expression is the verb, it would make more sense - and in my opinion would sound better - to say "And to what should noblesse oblige me?"
     

    kency

    Senior Member
    English - SE England
    No it would be, "And to what should noblesse oblige oblige me?"

    'Noblesse Oblige' is a compound noun. They are two French words for the name of an idea/philosophy. The 2 'obliges' are spelled the same, but are pronounced differently and have different meanings.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    No it would be, "And to what should noblesse oblige oblige me?"

    'Noblesse Oblige' is a compound noun. They are two French words for the name of an idea/philosophy. The 2 'obliges' are spelled the same, but are pronounced differently and have different meanings.
    That's interesting. I have never encountered a French noun oblige, and my French dictionaries don't list such a noun. They just have the verb obliger and the noun obligation. "Noblesse oblige" is a short sentence meaning "high rank brings obligations".

    Or did you mean that the expression "noblesse oblige" functions as a compound noun when it is used in English? In that case, I agree that some some people no doubt think of it that way.
     

    kency

    Senior Member
    English - SE England
    It is a compound noun in English. Unfortunately I don't speak French so I wouldn't want to try and explain their usage :)
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    'It' means the expression noblesse oblige which means literally 'nobility obliges'. Oblige is a third person singular verb in the present, in French, but the grammar of it is quite irrelevant. It's used in English just as it is.

    The notion is that the upper classes have a duty of care, an obligation to the lower classes. Privilege brings responsibility might be the best English equivalent. See kencey #2

    LongX has not given the context. Connie is furious about Clifford's treatment of Mellors, and angrily reproaches Clifford for having no concern about Mellors poor health. Clifford wants to know what his responsibilities to Mellors are; what exactly does this saying noblesse oblige oblige him to do for Mellors and how should his superior social status affect his treatment of his social inferiors.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    what exactly does this saying noblesse oblige oblige him to do for Mellors and how should his superior social status affect his treatment of his social inferiors.
    Seems that at Lawrence's time, there was a phrase oblige somebody to something, which has been replaced by oblige somebody to do something.
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Seems that at Lawrence's time, there was a phrase oblige somebody to something, which has been replaced by oblige somebody to do something.
    Noblesse oblige means "[My] being noble creates obligations." in French. She is saying "What is this oblige of which you speak?".

    I would read the oblige in And to what should it oblige me as an echo of the French word oblige in the motto Noblesse oblige. I might even pronounce it obleege as in the French original.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Since oblige in the expression is the verb, it would make more sense - and in my opinion would sound better - to say "And to what should noblesse oblige me?"
    Exactly correct. This is obviously what was in the minds of the characters, who would have been taught French.

    Seems that at Lawrence's time, there was a phrase oblige somebody to something,
    Just the same in our time.
     
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