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Culture and Anarchy: Doing as One Likes (Chapter 2) | Matthew Arnold’s view upon English Aristocratic Class

Culture and Anarchy: Doing as One Likes (Chapter 2) | Matthew Arnold’s view upon English Aristocratic Class

Culture and Anarchy: Doing as One Likes (Chapter 2) | Matthew Arnold

Q. What does Arnold say about the English aristocratic class in the 2nd chapter namely “Doing as One Likes” from "Culture and Anarchy"? Explain with appropriate references to the essay

Answer: "Culture and Anarchy" is a work by Matthew Arnold, a 19th-century English poet and cultural critic. In the second chapter titled "Doing as One Likes," Arnold discusses the English aristocratic class and their attitudes towards culture and social responsibility.

Arnold is critical of the aristocracy's tendency to prioritize personal pleasure and individual desires over a sense of duty to society. He argues that this pursuit of personal whims and caprices is detrimental to the development of a cultured and enlightened society. According to Arnold, the English aristocracy often fails to recognize the importance of a higher cultural and intellectual purpose, choosing instead to indulge in self-serving activities.

Arnold is known for promoting the idea of "culture" as a means of achieving individual and societal improvement. In this context, culture refers to the pursuit of intellectual and moral refinement, which he believes should be the guiding force in society. The aristocracy, in Arnold's view, falls short of embracing this cultural ideal and tends to prioritize personal freedom without a corresponding sense of responsibility.

In "Doing as One Likes," Arnold uses satire and irony to criticize the aristocratic class, highlighting the consequences of their self-indulgent behavior. He encourages a shift in values toward a more enlightened and culturally conscious society, where individuals recognize the importance of intellectual and moral development for the greater good.

Arnold argues that the English aristocracy's pursuit of "doing as one likes" reflects a lack of commitment to a higher, more refined culture. He contends that true culture involves the harmonious development of all human faculties, including the intellectual and moral dimensions. The aristocracy, however, often exhibits a narrow focus on personal pleasure and immediate desires, neglecting the broader responsibilities to society.

Arnold uses the term "Philistines" to describe those who prioritize material pursuits and immediate gratification over the pursuit of higher ideals. In this context, the English aristocracy is criticized for embodying Philistine values, as they are seen to be primarily concerned with their own pleasures and privileges, detached from the cultural and intellectual aspirations that Arnold advocates.

In advocating for a more cultured society, Arnold isn't merely calling for an elite pursuit of knowledge. Instead, he envisions a culture that permeates all levels of society, enriching the lives of individuals and fostering a sense of shared purpose. He argues that a genuine culture would lead to a more cohesive and enlightened society, where individuals are guided by a common understanding of moral and intellectual values.

To fully appreciate Arnold's perspective on the English aristocracy in "Doing as One Likes," it's essential to explore specific passages where he criticizes their attitudes and behaviors. By examining the nuances of his language and the examples he provides, readers can gain a deeper understanding of Arnold's vision for a culturally enlightened society and his concerns about the shortcomings of the aristocratic class in achieving this ideal.


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