In the letter written in the 18th century to his son, Philip, who lived far from home, Lord Chesterfield establishes his position, threatens his son’s financial source and stresses the importance to be the best in order to reap the benefits of obedience, good reputation and perfection. First, Lord Chesterfield establishes his position in order to get his make his son obedient to him.
Take, for example, in the beginning of the letter Chesterfield writes “I know how unwelcome advice generally is” (Chesterfield 3-4), or in other words Chesterfield is already aware his son will read the letter with a prejudice therefore resorts to using reverse psychology. This establishing of his position, because it requires Phillip Stanhope to feel guilty, and admit his prejudice to reading the letter, is a tactic that will likely succeed in getting Chesterfield’s son to want to prove his father wrong and proceed to reading the letter diligently.
Moreover, because Philip Stanhope continues to read the letter carefully, he therefore, falls victim to Chesterfield’s trick as Chesterfield goes on to write “I flatter myself that your reason young as it is” a clear disinterest in his opinion “I can have no interest but yours in the advice I give you” (Chesterfield 14-17), a tactic all parents very much love to use on their children; Chesterfield acting like he cares for his son’s opinion when he really does not.
Chesterfield lays the “. are about you and your opinion” act thick in the beginning of the letter to create an “amiable” atmosphere between himself and his son in order to bait his son in and trick him into listening to him before his changes his tactic to a more hostile and threatening approach. Taken together by crediting his opinion and creating an “amiable” prove particularly effective in catching the attention of his son, because as a whole, they compel Chesterfield’s son to keep readings the letter diligently.
In the middle of the letter, Chesterfield threatens his son’s dependency on him in order to stress the importance of a good reputation. Take, for example, in the middle of the letter Chesterfield pens “I do not therefore so much as hint your dependence on me” (Chesterfield 30-32), or in other words “You rely on me and are and will be nothing without me to help you”. This threatening of his son’s dependency on Chesterfield, because it will require his son to feel anxious, is a tactic that will likely succeed in getting Philip Stanhope and realize just his dependence on his father.
Moreover, because Philip Stanhope will most likely feel anxious and scared of not having his father back him, he therefore will strive to follow his follow his father’s wishes as Chesterfield continues to writes”… nor can have a shilling in the world but from me” (Chesterfield 34-35), an assertion that is very true as the 18th century, family social class was a big part of the way one was treatment or looked at in society. Chesterfield is well aware of this and so is Philip Stanhope therefore Chesterfield uses the cheap method of threatening him with what could make or break Stanhope’s future.
Taken together by threatening his son’s future and financial support will prove effective as Chesterfield is well aware his son will need both his father’s money and “name” in order to make something of himself. Lastly Chesterfield stresses to his son the importance of utmost being the best in order to ensure perfection. Take, for example, when he writes”… can there be anything more mortifying than to be excelled by them? ” (Chesterfield 52-54), or in other words Chesterfield is saying there is nothing worse than being excelled by someone else even if it is by a margin.
Using rhetorical questions emphasize the importance of achieving excellence and perfection, values Chesterfield holds very dearly. This emphasis of being perfect, because it requires Phillip Stanhope to feel motivated and try as much as hard as he can to be the best of the best, is a tactic that will most likely succeed as Stanhope will realize the truth in his father’s statement as he is an illegitimate child and need to questions asked about his capabilities.
Moreover, because Stanhope will heed to his father’s advice and strive to be the best, therefore will work hard not to be questioned of his social status. Next Chesterfield continues writes”… your shame and regret must be greater than anybody’s,” that is society “because everybody knows the uncommon care which has been taken of your education, and the opportunities” as a nobles son “you had of knowing more than others of your age” (Chesterfield 56-60), a statement that could be proven true by others who have known Chesterfield.
Chesterfield warns his son of the consequences that cou in doing this half-heartedly”… one may as well not know a thing at all, as know it imperfectly” (Chesterfield 66-67) by reminding his son that as a person who was born into a position with many opportunities granted to him, and therefore failure to work hard and excel others of his age would unavoidably bring shame and disgrace to himself and his father.
Taken together stressing the importance of being the best and being perfect, even though it sounds harsh, it is just out of love and concern that Chesterfield wants the best for his son to that his is not questioned just because of his birth. In conclusion Chesterfield’s reason for stressing perfection, obedience and threatening his son is that he hopes his son makes the right choices for himself, something Chesterfield himself didn’t do so well on in the past.