by sheer force of character

< Previous | Next >

celine713

Senior Member
Chinese
It is a life of freedom and terror, of prosody and rebellion, of interminable floggings and appalling practical jokes, Keate ruled but unaided--for the under-masters were few and of no account---by sheer force of character.....what does this mean?:confused: ...From two sides, this system of education was beginning to be assailed by the awakening public opinion of the upper middle class....the growing utilitarianism of the age viewed with impatience a course of instruction, which excluded all the branches of
knowledge except classical philophy; while its growing respectability :confused: was shocked by such a spectacle of disorder and brutality as was afforded by the Eton of Keate.
respectablity refer to what?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    I think, having read a bit of both the article this excerpt is from and another one, that it refers to Eton, the respectability of Eton.

    Urgh! Forgot the first one. Keate did not rule with the help of his underlings or because he was liked etc. His character was so such that his personality dominated over others if that makes any more sense.
     

    celine713

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yeah, I also suspected that refered to Eton, however, the "respectability was shock "sounds a little bit strange in terms of grammar...
    Thank you both!:)
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I'm afraid I have to make myself unpopular and disagree! It's a hideously convoluted paragraph, but the one thing 'respectability' does not refer to is Eton, which is the OBJECT, not the SUBECT of that last clause. It was not Eton's respectability that was shocked by Eton - it was the respectability of the age.

    The paragraph is describing the gradual change in the system of the Public Schools in England. Up until 1834, it had been brutal and limited (as illustrated by the career of Keate, who was headmaster or 'Provost' there for some years) but now this was about to change.

    The Age (which is the dawn of the Victorian age) started to view the public schools differently. It was a utilitarian age, so it wasn't impressed by the limited curriculum (classical philosophy only). It was also an increasingly respectable age, so it was shocked by the kind of brutality Keate was practising at Eton. All of this leads to a new kind of public school, best illustrated by the career of Hughes at Rugby.

    Does that clarify it at all?
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Louisa you might be right. I re-read it and now I am just not sure. It might refer either to the respectability of the society of that era or (maybe) the respectability that Eton as a school begun to have (which made Eton of Keate look horrible). I think I must read the whole paragraph (the rest of the text too) a few times
     

    celine713

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I'm afraid I have to make myself unpopular and disagree! It's a hideously convoluted paragraph, but the one thing 'respectability' does not refer to is Eton, which is the OBJECT, not the SUBECT of that last clause. It was not Eton's respectability that was shocked by Eton - it was the respectability of the age.

    The paragraph is describing the gradual change in the system of the Public Schools in England. Up until 1834, it had been brutal and limited (as illustrated by the career of Keate, who was headmaster or 'Provost' there for some years) but now this was about to change.

    The Age (which is the dawn of the Victorian age) started to view the public schools differently. It was a utilitarian age, so it wasn't impressed by the limited curriculum (classical philosophy only). It was also an increasingly respectable age, so it was shocked by the kind of brutality Keate was practising at Eton. All of this leads to a new kind of public school, best illustrated by the career of Hughes at Rugby.

    Does that clarify it at all?
    Hi, louisa, do you mean this Victorian age is quite sublime amongst the public's mind, so that eveything should be in accordance with this solemny and nobility including educational system? Does that ring true?
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Hi, celine - and apologies for the delay in replying. I've been away and 'off air' for the weekend...

    To answer your question:

    Not quite! From the historical perspective we would see the Victorian Age as an enlightened one in terms if its many reforms, but even now we would not see it as 'sublime', and in its own day I doubt it was even recognised as an 'Age' at all. The paragraph is simply discussing how the prevailing mood of the day (which we would now call the Spirit of the Age) forced change on the insititution of the Public Schools.

    This paragraph specifically refers to two of the main driving forces for change in the era. The first is the rise of the Middle Classes, who were newly prosperous as a result of the Industrial Revolution, and newly enfranchised by the 1832 Reform Act which gave the vote to most substantial householders. The second is the sudden surge in religious fervour and the desire for an increased role for Christianity in the education of the young, largely fuelled by the Oxford Movement (led by Keble and Pusey, two highly influential figures in education as well as the Church). Up until now, the Public Schools (in the UK, this means 'fee-paying schools', ie 'private schools' in just about any other society!) had largely to do with wealthy traditionalists, of the school of thought that 'flogging never did me any harm, what's wrong with it for my boy?'. Now for the first time, middle class children were being admitted, and their parents were shocked at what they found. The Public Schools needed to adapt to this new clientele - or go under.

    And adapt they did - drastically. The Thomas Hughes novel 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' draws on the author's own recollections of the new Headmaster of Rugby School, Dr Thomas Arnold, who swept away the old regime of bullying, and introduced in its place a rather priggish concept of Christian values. He was, in his way, the antidote to Keate.

    I hope this helps a bit - and am really sorry if it comes too late to be of any use.

    LouisaB
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Louisa you might be right. I re-read it and now I am just not sure. It might refer either to the respectability of the society of that era or (maybe) the respectability that Eton as a school begun to have (which made Eton of Keate look horrible). I think I must read the whole paragraph (the rest of the text too) a few times
    Many thanks for the link, ireney. I'm now dying of embarrassment at my failure to recognise Lytton Strachey....:eek: :eek: :eek:

    I've had a look at it in context now, and I still think I'm right, but it's an extraordinary piece of writing. I wouldn't want to try to teach grammar from it - would you?!
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Louisa B I would most certainly not!

    And I should have written (my mistake for not doing it before) that I now agree with you. I don't know if I would have gone for a single-word description of what "respectability" is trying to convey if I was the author mind you.
     

    celine713

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi, Louisa, really thank you for that insightful and well-informed elaboration, which has disintangled that skein of thought on my mind!
    And ireney, thank you too, the debate between you and Louisa has enlarged my vision.:)
    I am very much obliged!

    Celine
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top