XIX century literature and the species of Englishmen


What all these terms have in common: swell, snob and cockney?  Why there are many associations made between these species of Englishmen in literature such as in Charles Dickens’, John Fowles’ and Prince Bismarck’s writings?

Swell: a dandy; a figure with a prominent chest, showing lordly an air of self-importance;

Snob: sine nobilitate, or s. nob; people who emulate aristocrats; a person who insists on displaying (sometimes non-existing) wealth through conspicuous consumption of luxury goods (clothes, jewellery, cars etc.). Such person on the contrary craves the attention of snobs, trying to convince them with such consumption of his or her wealth and therefore status. 

Cockney: a working person that lives in East London, in the XIX century, speaking the slang in rhymes.

This is the main depiction of these types in the XIX century society in England of Charles Dickens’ Fowles’ novels (Sam reminding of Sam Weller in Pickwick Papers) and even in the prince Bismark’s description of people and food.

A National Geographic article would explain the psychological and social reasons of the settlement in the eastern part of London of a certain category of people. The immigration mass settled down across the centuries in the east part of the city because of the opening to the Thames port. Once they achieved something they moved in other zones of London.

But in the same time, Lord Bismark says a cockney is a narrow minded person that hasn’t gone out of the wall of the city.

So, in this desire and search for happiness, the working class suffered a process of transformation. Their aspiration turns them into snobs and swells. Are these social categories able to change their class overnight? Them becoming snobs and swells are the reminiscent of the chrysalides of their resurrection? Are these characteristics proper to any transition period of a person or a society?

Anyway, these species will be all time classics in all cultures no matter how much world will progress.

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