Study Guide

Canto VII Society and Class

By Ezra Pound

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Society and Class

It can be tough to pick up on, but one of Pound's biggest beefs in Canto VII is with the middle class. That's right—the people who make a good salary but who aren't rich enough to be part of the so-called leisure class. For Pound, these people have a tendency to care more about money than anything else. The problem, though, is that they have just enough education to try to look like they know about classic art and all that jazz. In the end, though, they just end up being a bunch of posers, and Pound really can't stand the way they infect classic beauty with their boring, ignorant lives.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Do you buy the connection Pound is making between the fall of the modern world and the money-hungry middle class? Do you think the middle class is really to blame for cheapening our modern ideas of beauty? Why or why not?
  2. What is the connection Pound draws between the middle class and the cheap, tacky house decorations (columns and sphinxes) that are supposed to look like classic architecture? How are these decorations symbolic of the problems with the middle class?
  3. Do you think Pound is suggesting that only the rich, leisured classes should be allowed to determine what good and bad art is? Does these people's freedom from financial concerns make them better judges of beauty, since they don't care about how much things cost?

Chew on This

In Canto VII, Pound suggests that the middle class is a scourge on beauty, since these people don't know what they're talking about, but they have a lot of influence over society's concept of style and "good" art.

In Canto VII, Pound blames the fall of modern culture on the rise of the middle class, because this class cares only about money and practical things, and they have no idea what classic beauty or great art actually is.

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