The snob, in an everyday situation, is the person we tend to dislike; they always believe to be better than their fellow-man. The snob is the person that turns their nose up at the world, believing they are the greatest person in some form or fashion. This is not the same case when it comes to the snobs in novels, we tend to thrive on the snob and quite enjoy their company. They are the character that provides the most entertainment; they are the author’s secret weapon to make a novel come alive. A classic example of a snob would be Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; she is constantly sticking her nose in the air and declaring how everyone is inferior to her in every way. The characters that Faulks chose for this episode are the following:
– Emma, Emma, by Jane Austen: Emma is a perfect example of a snob we all love. She is a sob based more on her social status in the aspect that she must fix everyone’s lives based on how they should be. She has a dim perspective on life as it truly is; she has a faulty understanding of those around her and goes out of her way to ruin their lives. Her “matchmaking” skills ruin the many relationships during the novel, and Emma continues to feel she is doing it for the good of that person. She is constantly policing people around depending on their social status, she is planning on keeping things the way that they are. Of course it is Mr. Knightly and his love that allow her to see how much of a snob she truly is and she changes her ways.
– Pip, Great Expectation by Charles Dickens: Pip starts out as your average human being brought up with good morals and manners but eventually turns into a snob. It is an event in his childhood when he meets Estella and Miss Havisham that allows his perspective of the world to change. They allow the inner snob in him to come alive and question everything that he once knew. Pip then goes to London to better himself, based on what Estella has told him and he comes into a great deal of money and must join good society. Pip must learn to become a gentleman, in result a snob in the process. Pip completes his snob transformation when he turns his back on his family; he eventually learns the error of his ways but the inner snob is still part of him.
– Charles Pooter, A Diary of Nobody by George Grossmith & Weedon Grossmith: Mr. Pooter is a suburban snob; based entirely on his possessions and his ideals of the world around him. He desperately clings to what he knows and owns; he believes to be better than those around him. He does not get the respect that he thinks he deserves. He believes that everyone should be a certain way and you should act, think and just be that way that is expected of you. The reader laughs with him and at him due to his shallow snobbery but we never look down at him, since we are all like him in one way or another. He is stuck in the past of role-playing and staying within those roles that have been given to us. Our ambition should not exceed our own social identity.
– Jeeves, The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse: Jeeves is the snobby valet of the main character Bertie Wooster. Jeeves is preserved to a “gentleman’s gentleman”, even though Jeeves is supposed to be the help, the reader is well-known that Jeeves is the brains behind everything. His snobbery is shown through his intelligence; he always has the answers to any question thrown his way. He understands how things should be done and how they are done; he plays the game of society so gracefully that the idiots around him do not know he is in control. Jeeves is in control of Bertie’s life, even though he lacks perspective of how things truly are. He tries to a change things so they will remain constant but this is not to be so.
– Jean Brodie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark; Jean Brodie is a primary school teacher who shows her snobbery by showing favoritism through her elite students. She has the intellectual snobbery of Jeeves but it is brought into an Edinburgh classroom. She is selective of certain girls to be in her class room; only the best girls will learn from her intelligence, she wants only the elite, posh students. To be in her select group means you are a somebody, and if you aren’t then you are a nobody. She also deals with the problem of cultural snobbery; that her knowledge of art, politics, and architecture allow her to be above the rest. Jean thinks she is in the prime of her life; any man would want her but soon realizes that she is an old spinster lost in her head over her snobbery.
– James Bond, Dr. No by Ian Fleming: James Bond is a connoisseur snob; it is his possessions that define him as a person. He has to have the right car, the right cigarettes, and the right woman because without these things he is no one. Also since he is in a profession where nothing is left to chance, James’ image must be perfect for all those to see. His snobbery is more about classiness instead of focusing on class. James has total control over everything around him and with all his possession he is able to be the best; whatever or whoever he needs to be to get the job done. He is the quintessential image of materialism.
– Chanu, Brick Lane by Monica Ali: Chanu is the arrogant, pompous, shallow husband of the main character Nazneen; he believes that his book reading allows him to be smarter than the population that he lives in. Chanu believes himself to be an educated man based entirely on the books he has read and the random diplomas given to him from various courses he has taken. He is ignorant of English society but wishes the Bangladesh society he lives in were more English. He disapproves of those who do not read on a daily basis and approves to other “intellects” like himself. Chanu has a reached a point where he has confused the boundaries of the pieces of papers on his wall and wisdom. He has a difficult time understanding by people do not look up to him and give him the respect that he feels he deserves.
The snob is continually changing and mutating as society and time changes around it. There will always be snobs who think very highly of themselves and look down to others. As long as there are cultural differences, class differences, and even educational differences there will always be someone to thinks that one way is better than another. Next week is the last episode of the series and it will look at the villain; who has the ability to change the novel, control the plot and make things happen whether good or bad.
Wiki-links of the novels:
– Great Expectations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Expectations
– A Diary of Nobody: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary_of_a_Nobody
– The Code of the Woosters: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Code_of_the_Woosters
– The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prime_of_Miss_Jean_Brodie_(novel)
– Brick lane: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Ali