Essay on Trading Places
Trading Places provides many examples of stratification. Throughout the movie the actions, words and appearances of its characters and their surroundings show the true-to-life stratification that exists in society. As the movie progresses, the separation of the upper and lower classes becomes more defined. The main characters wind up on top but the paths they take are marked by the unfairness, prejudice and stereotypes associated with stratification.
Even from the opening credits the differences in classes are evident. The images of Philadelphia flashing on the screen provide contrasts between the upper and lower classes. The producers used statues of a war hero to portray the upper class and the famous statue of Rocky to represent the lower. The subway and the long lines contrast sharply from Coleman making breakfast for Winthorpe and chauffeuring him to and fro. It simply shows lower class people waiting while the well-to-do are being waited on.
What struck me most was the snobbishness displayed by Winthorpe and the Duke Brothers when they ran into their employees. They always had to be greeted to first before returning the gesture. It was always a respectful "Hello, Mr. Winthorpe" or "Good morning, Mr. Duke" followed by an impassive "Yes..." or "Hello, so and so." Sometimes, as was the case with the Duke Brothers and their multitude of servants, they didn't respond at all. The polar opposite was shown when Ophelia went as far as to slap a friend of hers on the butt when they greeted one another. Imagining Mortimer high-fiving his brother, let alone giving him an ass slap, makes me laugh. People of the same level of society tend to be friendlier with each other and more willing to converse while contrasting classes overlook each other.
The character I related to most,