- 1 The Death of the WASP Elite Is Greatly Exaggerated
- 2 How the WASPs won by losing
- 3 The Late, Great American WASP
- 3.0.1 BOOLA, BOOLA: George H.W. Bush in his baseball uniform as a Yale undergraduate, circa 1945-48
- 3.0.2 Political columnist Joseph Alsop at home, 1963
- 3.0.3 Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas)
- 3.0.4 Former President Bill Clinton
- 3.0.5 John Foster Dulles (right), who would become President Eisenhower’s secretary of state, greets his brother, future CIA Director Allen Dulles, 1948
- 4 How Not to Mourn the Wasp Aristocracy
- 5 What is WASP Culture? – Tag
- 6 Opinion
- 7 The WASP Life
- 8 Kagan and the triumph of WASP culture
The Death of the WASP Elite Is Greatly Exaggerated
English. In the United States, there are many different regional dialects that are affected by social status and differ from town to town and from nation to country. It is common to find huge groups of people who do not speak English as a first language or who speak patois in the bigger cities, notably in London.
How the WASPs won by losing
The United States previously had a governing caste that ruled the country. They ruled for over a century, from Reconstruction to the Nixon administration, but it wasn’t until the last few years of their reign that they were given a name: White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, or WASPs, as they were known. Outside of a few vacation destinations, real WASPs have virtually vanished from the face of the earth. Since Thurston Howell III was introduced on Gilligan’s Island, the majority of Americans have only known them as humorous personas dressed in brilliantly colored holiday clothing.
Despite the fact that their accents and traditions have become jokes, the WASPs’ legacy continues to live on today.
- The moniker “WASP” was never completely correct in the first place.
- The majority of its members were Protestants, although there were a few non-Protestants among them.
- More than race or religious affiliation, what distinguished the WASPs was a combination of heritage, prosperity, and idealistic tendencies.
- Even though they were not as wealthy as the businessmen of the Gilded Age, they inherited enough money to live comfortably without having to work too hard.
- However, they did not have a headquarters in Boston, which had become a provincial capital by the late nineteenth century.
- This was a civilization that was actually inbred, with the majority of its inhabitants being more or less relatives.
- As an alternative, they wished to assist popular governance in realizing its full potential.
The robber barons may have used their immense money to sway the national parties toward their own goals, but the WASPs began their rise to prominence in the late nineteenth century as reformers who sought to bring about social change.
They considered themselves to be a permanent ruling elite, one that would provide an uneducated public with what it needed rather than what it believed it desired.
There was a certain amount of self-interest in the elite’s vision of reform.
Their motivations, on the other hand, contained true civic spirit.
Groton is located in the town of Groton, Massachusetts.
They developed a complex of foundations and advocacy organizations to tackle social issues without exchanging assistance for electoral support.
The contemporary diplomatic service, National Park Service, Federal Reserve, and other organizations were all formed as a result of the influence of WASPs in the United States.
After a series of presidents who maintained a distance between themselves and the upper classes, elite reformism found a champion in Theodore Roosevelt.
However, according to Beran’s account, they were able to rekindle their old do-gooding attitude with FDR.
However, at that time, the WASPs were already in jeopardy.
Writers with WASP backgrounds and themes, such as James Russell Lowell and William Dean Howells, dominated American literature before to World War I.
Following World War II, modernist movements from the top and popular culture from the bottom conspired to erode aesthetic tradition.
Second, the economic advantages enjoyed by WASPs were eroded as a result of the Depression and wartime taxation.
Smaller landlords, on the other hand, were wiped out.
John Cheever converted this bleak plunge into middle-class life into a work of literature in his later years.
What should patricians do if their rule is challenged by the populace?
Others shifted to the left, becoming Communist sympathizers and, in some cases, genuine spies, such as Alger Hiss, among others.
WASPs were prone to weariness, and they relied on injections of fresh blood to rekindle their waning energy.
Kennedy was chosen to be the vehicle for the WASPs’ final major endeavor.
As a prince of new money and new media, Kennedy, on the other hand, was at ease in a postwar America that had escaped the grasp of the WASPs.
While the “Wise Men” of foreign policy sipped drinks in Georgetown, developments in other parts of the world accelerated their demise.
In order to conduct global campaigns against fascism and communism, America required the best talent available wherever it could be located.
Digby Baltzell, the sociologist who popularized the term, “the Protestant Establishment” may complete its destiny by accepting real meritocracy and then disappearing from the scene.
As their influence waned, degeneration began to take hold.
Beran portrays the collapse of the WASPs as a tragic event in American history.
Inspire by a hope of national rebirth based on professional management, moral formation through elite educational institutions, and a new sort of cultural institution that was independent of both the state and aristocratic patrons, the WASPs formed a group in the early twentieth century.
Begin with administrative entities that are staffed by members of the professional civil service — the “deep state,” as it has come to be termed recently.
In a vivid revival of old conflicts, Robert Mueller, an anachronistically perfect WASP, briefly assumed the role of the avatar of anti-Trump sentiment during the Russia investigation.
Elite schooling also represents a greater proportion of the WASP background than we would like to believe.
However, the Ivies and its imitators continue to use higher education largely as a means of selection and the formation of a governing class in society.
Contrary to its dissatisfaction with the apparently benighted past, the moralistic progressivism that permeates today’s campuses reflects the WASP notion that societal improvement is a consequence of personal virtue.
By instituting structured forms of communal living, an attempt is being made to cultivate the right kind of people.
That’s exactly what “Cotty” Peabody was up to in Groton.
They placed greater reliance in professional management than they did in human judgment, both in culture and in politics.
The charitable foundation was established to help those in need.
Their generosity set the tone for scholarship, the arts, and political activity around the world.
The legacy of institutionalized progressivism, rather than the fussy conservatism represented in popular culture, is a belief in the importance of privilege as a vehicle to achieve moral aims, even when those ends appear to be revolutionary on the surface.
Those opposed to the decision said that it represented a renunciation of intellectual and cultural values.
However, the shift away from the traditional curriculum is less dramatic than it appears at first glance.
They are able to sustain endowments that are comparable to country economies and exert a magnetic pull on the middle and upper classes.
Despite the victories of the Roosevelts, the WASPs were defeated in the election contest.
Modern-day WASPs such as George H.W.
However, they were not the only WASPs to have difficulty adjusting to modern media.
What’s My Line?, you might wonder.
They were successful in their war for America’s soul because they created institutions that continue to shape the country.
When combatants win through losing, they are said to have lost. The WASPs were victorious by virtue of their defeat.
The Late, Great American WASP
The United States previously possessed an unofficial but still actual governing elite, formed from what came to be known as the WASP establishment, which was based in New York City. Members of this establishment dominated politics, economics, and education in the past, but they no longer hold that position. In my opinion, the WASPocracy has lost its confidence, as well as its ability and interest in taking the initiative. We no longer have a governing class, unless one counts the institution that has come to be known as the meritocracy, which is apparently an aristocracy of pure intellect comprised of men and women who have received their education at the nation’s most prominent universities.
- However, as acronyms go, this one is more deficient than most.
- NeitherJimmy CarternorBill Clinton met the requirements.
- WASP credentials were inherited through lineage, and lineage—that is, legitimate birth—automatically resulted in contacts with the appropriate institutions.
- WASPs tended to dwell in elite areas, such as Upper Park and Fifth Avenues in New York, the Main Line in Philadelphia, the Back Bay in Boston, Lake Forest and Winnetka in Chicago, and the Back Bay in Philadelphia.
- Many people survived on money they had inherited and had wisely invested.
- The House of Representatives has never been predominately composed of WASPs, despite the fact that a number of prominent senators, including Henry Cabot Lodge and Leverett A.
- Henry Adams, a WASP who rose to the highest levels of government, referred to the machinations of Congress, the horse-trading, corruption, and the rest of it as “the dance of democracy,” as he looked down on the ugliness of everyday American politics.
The Catholic Kennedys were the most well-known example of such behavior.
The only difference was that true WASPs were too upstanding to participate in the unscrupulous business dealings of Joseph P.
or the feckless philanderings of him and some of his sons.
The primary literary chroniclers of WASP culture, such as F.
(Fitzgerald and O’Hara both attempted to spend their lives according to the WASP paradigm.
However, the Irish were not the only ones who felt the pangs. The designer Ralph Lauren (né Lifshitz) continues to create garments that are inspired by his vision of the WASP high life, which he believes is lived on the graceful boundaries of luxury leisure.
BOOLA, BOOLA: George H.W. Bush in his baseball uniform as a Yale undergraduate, circa 1945-48
Photograph courtesy of the George Bush Presidential Library/MCT/Getty Images The last WASP president was George H.W. Bush, however there is reason to assume that he was not wholly proud of his heritage as a WASP at the time of his election. In any case, he was surely not going to be promoting it. When he ran for office, he made every effort to pass himself off as a Texan, announcing a liking for pork rinds and a fondness for the music of the Oak Ridge Boys among his many other quirks. While his son George W.
- The fact that George H.W.
- Other indicators had shown far earlier in the process.
- By the 1970s, private colleges and prep schools had begun to abandon their long-standing quotas for Catholics and Jews, to reduce the number of legacies automatically accepted, and to use racial preferences to increase the enrolment of African-Americans and other minorities.
- Being considered to as elite, which was how WASPs of a previous generation loved to think of themselves, became a source of derision in society.
- According to a traditional joke, one bee inquires of another as to why he is wearing a yarmulke.
- The WASPs’ status as untitled aristocrats and national leaders took a significant hit in the late 1960s, when the first substantial crack appeared.
- The Establishment was both the demonstrators’ adversary and their intended target.
Political columnist Joseph Alsop at home, 1963
According to the Associated Press The Establishment joined a long line of adversaries of the American way of life in its establishment. Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and the military-industrial complex have all appeared on this list at various times, and they are all ambiguous entities. The Establishment, on the other hand, was everything but ambiguous. They were still alive and well, and they went by such names as John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, W. Averell Harriman, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, Joseph Alsop, C.
- Kennan, and Robert McNamara.
- The WASPs governed the country, and for those who didn’t care for the country or the directions in which they saw it was heading, the WASPs were a formidable and easily recognizable adversary to contend with.
- He will almost certainly be the last person to live there.
- Much has been said, and continues to be written, on the failings of the WASPocracy.
- It had a reputation for being anti-innovation and anti-social change since it was so tradition-conscious.
- The WASP elite, on the other hand, possessed dignity and a strong sense of social obligation.
- Stability, firmness, gravity, as well as a certain weight and an air of seriousness, pervaded public life under the reign of the WASPs.
- Meritocracy is a kind of leadership in which men and women are seen to have earned their positions not by birthright privileges but through their own efforts.
Talents have an open door to a career: What Napoleon Bonaparte promised, and what every meritocratic system is meant to deliver, are opportunities for the talented to advance their careers.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas)
According to the Associated Press The United States presently considers itself to be operating under a meritocratic system, in which the highest positions are available to the most capable individuals, regardless of their ancestry or socioeconomic background. When one considers that our 42nd president, Bill Clinton, was from a broken household in a backwater in Arkansas, and that our 44th president, Barack Obama, was also from a damaged home and biracial to boot, one could conclude that our political system is dysfunctional.
With the United States, meritocracy begins (and frequently ends) in what are considered to be the top schools and institutions.
Then, of course, one has to perform admirably inside them.
In the headquarters of the Educational Testing Service, which is responsible for administering the SATs, it appears that the modern American imperium was erected.
Former President Bill Clinton
ReutersWhether Republican or Democrat, left or right, the main people in contemporary American public life were all top students in their respective high schools. Bill Clinton’s educational background included Georgetown, Oxford (as a Rhodes scholar), and Yale Law School; Barack Obama’s included Columbia and Harvard Law School. Their wives were graduates of Wellesley and Yale Law Schools, as well as Princeton and Harvard Law Schools, respectively. Cruz attended Princeton University before going on to Harvard Law School.
- Their merit, it is presumed, stems from their having been exceptional pupils.
- The first of the two most powerful American presidents since 1950, Harry S.
- The idea that Harry Truman was a Princeton man, or that Ronald Reagan was a Yalie, somehow lessens both of these historical figures.
- This is true except for mathematics, which requires a high IQ, and science, which requires an exceptional aptitude.
John Foster Dulles (right), who would become President Eisenhower’s secretary of state, greets his brother, future CIA Director Allen Dulles, 1948
According to the Associated Press Being a good student, regardless of how excellent the school’s reputation is—and most good institutions, as we are learning, are good mostly because of their reputation—is no sign of one’s ability or potential as a leader. A good student may even be more than a little bit of a follower, a conformist, ready to satisfy the needs of the powers that be in order to progress to the next excellent school and climb another rung up the ladder of meritocracy in order to advance to the next good school.
- A strong sense of character manifested in moral conduct is at the center of Louis Auchincloss’ novels and short tales, who is considered America’s last unapologetically WASP writer.
- The vast majority of our meritocrats, on the other hand, appear to be in business for themselves.
- The parts of American public life that have faded away with the decline in dominance of WASP culture have not been replaced by the meritocratic values of the country.
- University presidents no longer speak out on the most important issues in education, but instead dedicate their time to fundraising and public relations in order to go on to the next, more prominent, university presidency in the near future.
- He went on to say that they all had master’s degrees from some of the nation’s supposedly greatest business institutions.
- So far in their history, meritocrats, those devout good students, have appeared to be concerned with nothing more than getting ahead, getting on, and (above all) obtaining their own in return for their efforts.
- The WASPs’ day has come to an end.
- The best way to remember it is to be reminded that the meritocracy that has followed it represents something less than obvious forward movement.
- Epstein’s latest book, “A Literary Education and Other Essays,” which is a collection of his essays.
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How Not to Mourn the Wasp Aristocracy
As the last of the twentieth century’s key political personalities die away, it will become increasingly evident that we are seeing not simply the end of a generation, but the gradual end of an era. Already, obedient undertakers are hard at work preparing the casket for interment. The columnist Ross Douthat wrote in the New York Times on Wednesday that the gloomy atmosphere around the death of former President George H. W. Bush was due to concern over the expulsion of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants from political authority.
According to him, “for all its faults—and it was sometimes hideously racist, in some areas segregationist, and almost always exclusive,” the old WASP aristocracy “did have a sense of modesty, humility, and public-spiritedness that appears to be entirely lost in today’s elite.” The products of today’s nominal meritocracy, on the other hand, he contended, operate on a “treadmill of achievement,” which means they are always moving and looking out for their own survival and success.
The author of Douthat’s weekly Sunday column agreed, writing, “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition, and it forges an elite that has all of the vices of the aristocracy (privilege, insularity, arrogance) but none of the noblesse oblige that the WASPs at their best exhibited.
- It does not follow that the Wasp rule was superior to the other rules.
- Originally from Ireland, the Kennedys were a family of affluent patricians and politicians with a mansion on Cape Cod and all the other cultural signifiers of the Wasp élite.
- The Roosevelts were descended from Dutch ancestors.
- The Rockefellers were sprung from German immigrants.
- If this is the case, the Trumps are also Wasps, which, to put it nicely, complicates the situation.
- “A feeling of noblesse oblige, as well as personal austerity and piety,” says Douthat of the Wasp ruling elite during its zenith, when it was at its most powerful.
- Both Douthat and Zakaria come up with a solution to this difficulty by stating that, despite what Douthat refers to as the “WASP virtues,” Not only have the Wasps established themselves as a distinct class, but they may also be mimicked or “imitated” by others.
- The Wasp’s track record has been a bit of a mixed bag.
- The wildly unequal Gilded Age, however, was the period of American history during which the northeastern Wasps of popular convention exerted the most control over American political and economic life.
- Moreover, as Douthat and Zakaria are well aware, African-Americans and Native Americans, Eastern and Southern Europeans, the Chinese, Catholics and Jews, and impoverished workers of all shades were all suppressed, often violently, throughout this period.
- Because the Wasps aren’t particularly noteworthy, they’ve been eliminated from the competition.
Because of this, they have performed badly in the subsequent competitions for popular approval—if Americans actually “missed” Wasps, one would expect them to be electing more rather than less of them to public offices—and have lost much of their influence in America’s back rooms and boardrooms.
We are totally immersed in the big ruling consensus that the Wasps established, which is based on liberal democracy, capitalism, and a global system overseen by the United States of America.
The tone of people who are really mourning Bush, as well as John McCain before him, may have something to do with the weakened status not just of Wasps, but also of moderate American élites, who appear genuinely nostalgic about their time in power.
Those élites, despite their claims to the contrary, share many essential premises and attitudes with the populist right, which they claim to despise—chiefly, a strong regard for our collective history and the white Americans who fashioned it.
Maybe moderate elites have been crying out for empathy and understanding for the populist right in part because they, too, are fearful of being displaced by a new moral and demographic order: the phrase “white racial anxiety” describes columnists who are worried about minority activism at a handful of American colleges just as well as Trump voters who are eager for updates on the migrant caravan.
However, the fact that moderate élites were unable to envision a better world did not imply that such a society was not attainable. And just because they are unable to envisage greater leaders than the Wasps does not rule out the possibility that history may provide such leaders.
What is WASP Culture? – Tag
As Cornelia Cunningham prepares to leave her house and donate her goods to charity in A.R. Gurney’s LoveMoney, she comes to the understanding that her immense riches has become a curse to herself and the rest of her family. By Alexandra Scordato Marketing Intern Her “tribe” is in decline, and she describes herself as a member of the WASP tribe:CORNELIAYou may have noticed that money can bring with it a terrible curse.SCOTTI haven’t noticed that, Cornelia.CORNELIAWell, I have, because it’s a curse that specifically affects my particular tribe.SCOTTTribe?
- Digby Baltzell is credited with coining the term WASP in his 1964 book, The Protestant Establishment: AristocracyCaste in America, and uses the acronym to describe a culture of wealthy elites who established themselves as the unofficial rulers of American society.
- Even before the word “Anglo-Saxon” became popular, it was used to describe characteristics that were comparable to those of WASPs before the term became widespread.
- In following years, sociologists added the words “white” and “protestant” to the acronym; Andrew Hacker is the first person to have written an article in which the acronym was used, although for him, the W stood for “rich.” Where do WASPs reside, exactly?
Another example of a WASP neighborhood is the Back Bay and Beacon Hill in Boston, as well as Bar Harbor in Maine and Chicago’s North Shore, Lake Forest, Kenilworth, and Glencoe neighborhoods.FashionWASP fashion is characterized by bright colors and bold prints, with influences from prep school uniforms.
- Crew, Vineyard Vines, and Sperry’s.
- A bright pair of khaki pants, oftentimes with little embroidered whales on them, Sperry boat shoes, a button-down shirt or polo, and a Burberry peacoat if it’s chilly outdoors are represented as the ideal ensemble for males.
- is a good choice for females.
- Additionally, Lilly Pulitzer’s bright, vivid pattern gowns are frequently spotted on WASP women.Want to know whether you are a WASP?
- Thischecklistis a fantastic method to find out!
E. Digby Baltzell’s The Protestant Establishment: AristocracyCaste in America is a source of information. Tad Friend’s Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor is another source. A Privileged Life: Celebrating Wasp Style is another source.
The death of former President George H.W. Bush has sparked a great deal of nostalgia for the old American elite, of which Bush was unquestionably a significant member during his lifetime. It has also sparked a spirited debate among pundits about the establishment, whose membership was mostly decided by bloodlines and connections in the first place. Until the early 1960s, the only way to get to practically any position of authority in the United States was to be white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and Protestant.
There is, in fact, something.
Numerous aspects of Bush’s greatest achievements — such as how he dealt with the fall of communism, his decision not to occupy Iraq after the first Gulf War, and his acceptance of tax increases to close the deficit — were marked by restraint, an ability to do the right thing despite enormous pressure to appease public opinion.
- With their power and position secure, the aristocrats could afford to think about the country’s fate in broad terms, looking out for the long term and putting the country’s interests above their own – since their own interests were secure.
- The 41st President of the United States is being hailed for leaving the globe in a more stable state.
- (Photo courtesy of Joy Yi, Kate Woodsome, and Christian Caryl for The Washington Post) If you are thinking that I am creating a vision of a world that has never been, allow me to provide you with a clear illustration.
- Towards the end of the voyage, as the ship began to sink and it became evident that there were not enough lifeboats to go around for everyone, something remarkable happened.
- Women and children were saved in large numbers in first class, however only around 30 percent of the men were saved in that same class.
- Today’s elites are selected in a much more transparent and democratic manner, with education playing a significant role.
- However, their strength is derived from this treadmill of achievement, and as a result, they are continuously on the move, looking out for their own survival and advancement.
- Most dangerously, they assume that their position has been gained properly.
- As a result, the prior restrictions have been lifted.
- The individual who coined the word “meritocracy” did not intend it to be taken as a praise in any way.
- Following Tony Blair’s favorable use of the word, Young cautioned that the prime minister was encouraging a highly immoral attitude toward individuals who were not being rewarded by the system, regarding them as though they were deserving of being at the bottom of the social ladder.
He emphasizes on their education and then addresses the audience, saying, “They are not elite.” “You’re a member of the elite.” Many Americans are genuinely disgusted by the way they are perceived and treated by their more successful countrymen, and Trump has discovered a genuine vein of disgust among them.
Similarly, the Brexit vote in 2016 reflected a popular revolt against technocrats.
Follow Please allow me to be clear.
I’m wondering if we can take something away from its virtues.
Today’s elites should be more conscious of their privilege and, at the very least, live by one simple old-fashioned, universal idea: that every human being, rich or poor, talented or not, educated or uneducated, is of equal moral worth to everyone else.
The WASP Life
The Afternoon Cocktail Hour Allen Moyer created the set design model. Among the plaques on display in the residences of Isabella Stewart Gardner and J.P. Morgan were the words “Think a lot, talk little, write less.” However, despite decades of domination over the political, commercial, and military establishments by the prep-schooled heirs of the old-money elite, they were and continue to be chronically underrepresented in the arts — and are content with this state of affairs. In the later decades of the twentieth century, however, when their authority began to wane, it came to the ostracized artists among them to challenge — or embrace — the caricatures that had come to define the “WASP.” The family that A.R.
- For those in wealthy settings, an aversion to artistic vocations may be seen as a matter of basic professional disapproval.
- Another possibility is that the personal and confessional parts of the arts proved to be an insurmountable barrier.
- The only people who picked up the pen because of these hurdles were the disgruntled and outsiders who were not from wealthy households.
- Tad Friend says that “the finest works about Wasps are written by individuals who are conflicted about the legacy, seeking to be accepted inside its comfortable bounds, or fed up with the entire thing,” citing this and other examples.
- When E.
- However, despite its title, Baltzell’s essay was actually a warning bell, foretelling how social currents and the pompous exclusivity of the aristocracy would eventually bring about the aristocracy’s demise.
- Throughout The Cocktail Hour, John laments that he is “stuck in this archaic medium.” This is unnatural, it is ancient, and it is extremely limiting beyond comprehension.
- His self-expression, however denigrated, becomes a means of preserving a culture on the verge of extinction.
Despite the fact that John’s family has misgivings about the theater, they are far closer to it than they realize — and, as Gurney’s play quietly hints, their futures may be irrevocably interwoven.
Kagan and the triumph of WASP culture
The Cocktail Hour is a time for socializing and networking. Allen Moyer created the model for the set design. Among the plaques on display in the residences of Isabella Stewart Gardner and J.P. Morgan were the words “Think a lot, talk a little, write even less.” For decades, the prep-schooled heirs of America’s old-money elite controlled the country’s political, commercial, and military establishments. However, they remained chronically underrepresented in the arts — and were content to continue that way.
- It is this dichotomy that is exemplified by the family that A.R.
- It is possible that in certain social groups, an aversion to creative occupations is just professional scorn.
- Another possibility is that the personal and confessional qualities of the arts proved to be an insurmountable impediment.
- Given these restrictions, it was only the dissatisfied and outsiders from wealthy families who dared to take to the pages of the newspaper.
Tad Friend argues, citing these and other examples, that “the finest novels on Wasps are written by individuals who are ambivalent about the legacy, or who are yearning to be accepted inside its comfortable bounds, or who are fed up with it all.” A cultural artifact known as “the entire thing” is a collection of cultural relics including summer cottages, polo shirts worn for genuine polo games, and nicknames such as Biff and Corkie that show no similarity to their owners’ legally inherited identities.
However, despite its title, Baltzell’s essay was actually a warning bell, foretelling how social currents and the pompous exclusivity of the aristocracy would ultimately bring about the aristocracy’s demise.
Throughout The Cocktail Hour, John complains, “I’m stuck in an outdated medium.” This is unnatural, it is ancient, and it is incredibly restricting.” No apparent connection exists between it and modern American culture.” The author may be talking about himself and his desire to produce plays, but hiscride coeur connects with his topic, a class of people whose ideals and pleasures appear to be living fossils in today’s cultural world.
Despite its negative connotations, his self-expression serves as a vehicle for the preservation of a threatened civilization.
However, while John’s family has reservations about the theater, they are actually far closer to it than they realize — and, as Gurney’s play quietly implies, their futures may be irrevocably interwoven.