Analysis Of The Article ' Land Of Opportunity ' Essay

Analysis Of The Article ' Land Of Opportunity ' Essay

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Opportunity Still Abounds Despite Inequities
In his essay “Land of Opportunity” James W. Loewen details the ignorance that most American students have towards class structure. He bemoans the fact that most textbooks completely ignore the issue of class, and when it does it is usually only mentions middle class in order to make the point that America is a “middle class country. This is particularly grievous to Loewen because he believes, “Social class is probably the single most important variable in society. From womb to tomb, it correlates with almost all other social characteristics of people that we can measure.” Loewen simply believes that social class usually determine the paths that a person will take in life. (Loewen 203)
However, the popular BBC serial-drama Downton Abbey (Broadcast in the U.S on PBS) a program where class permeates every episode, presents a different view. It manages show that opportunity along with the necessary boldness, talent, drive, and persistence can enable a person to rise above their station and better themselves; despite living in a system determined to hold them down. Downton Abbey focuses on the inner workings of an elegant British manor and the affairs of the family and staff who live there. The Crawley’s (the family who owns Downton Abbey) like other British nobles believe they are superior to the middle class Britons (doctors, lawyers, bankers); the nouveau rich Americans (whose money they covet as most owners of British estates are losing or have lost their fortunes); and of course, everyone is above the lowly house servants (Fellowes).
House servants also have rank and hierarchy and many of the lower ranking ones are always jockeying and trying to rise above their peers. At the top is...


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...vestiges of the past and make a new living by selling the estate when it still had value trapped her. She had the class, she had the connections, but she did not have the requisite skills (or requisite sanity) to start anew (Coateworth).
Although Loewen is correct that class and connections can place you in a position where you are more likely to succeed it isn’t enough to always keep you there; the Bouvier-Beales are proof of that. Big Edie had the house, she could have sold it, and then invested it in a wealthy friend’s or associate’s business; she refused to. Little Edie could have been bold like Sybil Crawley and left the squalid lifestyle her mother had chosen for herself – she didn’t. While boldness, talent, persistence and the drive to take advantage of opportunities can sometimes overcome class; apathy, laziness and lack of useable skills can negate it too.

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