Study Guide

Kew Gardens Society and Class

By Virginia Woolf

Society and Class

While "Kew Gardens" is no "Pygmalion" (which some of you might know as "My Fair Lady"), the story does touch a bit on the rather strict class boundaries found in England in the early 20th century.

The garden is a public environment in which numerous social classes can intersect. There isn't a huge emphasis placed on class in the story, but the social distinctions between certain characters are subtly suggested, and these distinctions affect how the characters interact with each other. What's more, the characters are often governed by notions of what is socially acceptable behavior in this public setting.

Well, we're dashed

Questions About Society and Class

  1. How does class affect the working-class women's perceptions of the old man?
  2. Does class factor into William's difficulty in handling his senile companion?
  3. What kinds of social expectations govern the characters' behavior?
  4. What social rituals do the characters engage in? 

Chew on This

Although the story takes place in a natural setting rather than <em>in</em> the city, societal expectations and class distinctions still govern the characters' behavior.

In his senility, the old man seems to completely neglect notions of social propriety. 

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