Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Society and Class

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Society and Class

Wealth and social status rule the school in London in 1895. Actually, money calls the shots today too, so no big change there. But in A Great and Terrible Beauty, if you don't have a pile of cash, then you'd better pack your kneepads to start scrubbing some floors or scooping horse doo. Since the main characters are all rich girls gone wild, we don't see life from the perspective of anyone else. Well except for Ann, but she leads a rich girl's life vicariously, so she doesn't count. (Or does she? Feel free to disagree. We love a good argument.)

Questions About Society and Class

  1. What do we learn about English society and class from this book? 
  2. What are the unwritten rules of society and class? How do people learn them? Was Gemma brought up with these values? How does she learn them?
  3. What does Tom reveal about society and class? What about Felicity and her parents? Ann?
  4. Do you see any connection between society and class and any of the other themes? Which ones? Where do they overlap?
  5. How does Gemma treat others of a lower class than her? What does this tell us about her?

Chew on This

This book argues that society and class are illusions, just like magic.

The members of the new Order secretly like the rules set up for them in society—if they didn't, they wouldn't go along with them so readily when they're in public.

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