Tyler Welch Christine Cranford ENG 113 – 02 IN – 2010SU 16 July 2010 The Emperor’s New Clothes In The Emperor’s New Clothes, the Emperor asked two weavers to weave him a cloth of extreme beauty and wealth — something that said, “I am Emperor. ” What the Emperor did not know was that these weavers were impostors who in the end made him look very idiotic with his “extraordinary dress” of absolutely nothing! However, he did not choose to see that what he was wearing was clearly nonexistent, instead he chose to believe that he was of higher standing than anyone else in his city.
Social class is linked to the way people dress every day. This is exemplified in Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. How is clothing related to social class you may ask? Put simply, people of higher class have always been the best dressed list in past years and for years to come. This short story in particular gives the reader a lesson, it’s not what you wear that makes you who you are, its who you are inside. This is easily said than done. The idea that clothing represents who you are in society is not a new idea. It has been noted that certain colors, patterns, material, etc. ave been reserve strictly for the highest of rank. For example, in the time of the Romans “senators could wear garments dyed with Tyrian purple… ” (Finer). Obviously senators as well as Emperor’s were dressed a certain way to distinguish them from everyone else. It makes so much sense! Clothing also stood for something very important in Medieval Times — how high up you were placed in society. Peasants certainly did not have the same dress nobility. In the story, the Minister as well as the officer exemplified that their offices were much more of a higher standard than a simpleton.
Simpleton is the phrase used in the short story to describe people of a lower class. This should say something in itself — people who dressed plainly are simple and are not of importance. During the Medieval era, the wealthy normally wore flashy colors and extravagant patterns where as peasants and merchants normally wore plain and simple clothing that was affordable to them (Finer). During the Victorian era, dress was also very important to people. It has been noted that a persons appearance not only expressed their standing on the social ladder, but also of a persons morals and values. Women especially were judged by their appearances.
Not only was their dress important, but their hairstyles were also of great consideration to society (Morley). On a completely different note, occupation is another way dress influences social standing. If you notice, doctors wear their scrubs; police officers where their uniforms; lawyers normally wear suits; and construction workers are prone to wearing neon orange and yellow vests and a hard hat to boot (Global). Some may say that this idea of occupational dress is stereotypical, but honestly, is it really? No, it’s not. Having these uniforms of dress is just another way to separate people from one another in society.
These uniforms say, “I am of this ranking. ” But what about when the people in the uniforms take them off? Does this change the person completely? No! That is the whole point Hans Christian Andersen is trying to get across in his story. The fact that no one chooses to tell the Emperor that he is not really wearing extravagant clothes before the procession has started shows just how shallow people are. Each one of them were worried about their social status, or “office” as the story states, being judged for not being able to see the extravagant clothing.
The Emperor in the story realizes that he is indeed not wearing any clothes, but he goes on with the procession anyway. Symbolically, this is supposed to mean that you are who you are because of you not the way you are dressed. In other words, dress is not what makes people, but the people make the dress! Even though this is the point of the story, it is unfortunate to realize that this is not reality. We want so much to believe that the person makes the dress, but in all actuality the dress is what makes the person. One might even notice that this whole “clothing epidemic” is going on right in front of their own eyes.
Girls these days especially are prone to being sucked in by the way they dress. They believe that how they dress affects their popularity status. I myself have gone through this being a young girl at one point! I wonder where they could have gotten this idea from? Oh, that is right, this idea has been going on since the ancient times! In conclusion, the way people dress is indeed important. It has been important from the beginning of the ancient times until today. As much as we would like to believe that Hans Christian Andersen’s interpretation of “dress is not what is important,” there is absolutely no way that this is possible for us.
We are shallow as a whole. Much like the Emperor was in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Works Cited Andersen, Hans Christian. “The Emperor’s New Clothes. ” Literature for Composition: essays, stories, poems, and plays. Eds. Sylvan Barnet, William E. Cain, and William Burto. 9th ed. Boston: Longman, 2010. 849-852. Print. Global Oneness. Clothing – Clothing as a social message. Web. 15 July 2010. Morley, Jennifer. Hair Imagery In Jane Eyre. Web. 15 July 2010. The Finer Times: Excellence in content. Social Status and Clothing in Medieval Times. The Finer Times, A Division of Pear Corporation. 2009. Web. 15 July 2010.