‘Dual front class’ model as introduced by Elias ought, by virtue of the author’s tall name, be considered as presenting a plausible framework for addressing most of the Romanticism studies. But for the purpose of this article I think that this model needs a degree of ascertainment. It is hard to elude the question ‘What class of subjects to this model do we refer to’. In chapter eight of The Court Society Elias describes the disastrous conditions of the French nobility and report them (conditions) to have a might influence on their conscience.
Far from establishing the lawfullnes of this claims I will only illuminate the environment wherein nobles were caught and were bound to tolerate the diminished status of their strata and examinate the reasoning behind the category of ‘dual front class’. The issue of relation this category to one or other subject of French political system and to Romanticism phenomenon will be dominant in the article.
Old elite was being gradually dethroned by new one, which mainly acquired their status through purchase of that which constituted the core of court society – rank and sovereign’s favor. Noblesse de robe identified with highest ranks of buorguisie sidelined noblesse d’epee inside social piramid circumventing all etiquette and ceremonial, let alone descent or blood minutiae. “The ‘old’ nobles were beset by ennobled favorites and nobles of the robe. ”(Duindam and others, p.
29) Societal virtues of courtier, which included rank and title, pedigree, office, the sovereign’s favor, money, influence over mistresses and king’s ministers, wit, personal merit, facial beauty, grace and comport were in the large part depreciated and transformed under the influence of transformation in power balance within the Piramid of society. Noblesse de robe and merchants, in Elias’s view, acquired a growing influence because they were upheld and abetted by king who led continuos struggle with nobles. I prefer to leave this assumption of Elias untouched until further time and delve into the panorama of society as pictured by author.
It is clear that under the condition when king practically took the side of bourgeoisie the courtiers practically lost the sense of existence. The fact of belonging to the court was no more a symbol of prestige, neither did etiquette and ceremonial connote perpetual competition for prestige and status. In the beginning, exemplary behavior, as suggested by Elias, was more than social stance, which has befallen the nobles by virtue of the descent but truly the only mean of prestige and status competition under the system constructed by sovereign.
The social stance was in fact indivisible from personal (private) life; the very distinction thereof originated, according to Elias, from the times of bourgeois society. Considering this, the dramatic split between the notion of court society dominated by comport and traditional virtues and that society which was simultaneously alienated and subdued by king’s introduction of Favoritism seems to have transfigured the whole societal construction.
That brought further division lines, inter alia, within the nobles clique and marked psychological and social changes. Several passages devoted to the nature of the process of social change in the 8th paragraph of “The Court Society” discussed the ‘number, length, density and strength of the chains of interdependence’. This newly shaped ‘interdependence’ practically meant emerging of functionalized, bureaucratic elite which had, among the political implications, deep emotional and nostalgical impact.