The High School Hierarchy

In today’s society, hierarchies are present all around us. Whether it be the hierarchy of individuals in our society as a whole, or even just the social ladder in one’s high school, we see that different social statuses exist. While some people are content with their placement on the social ladder, others will do whatever they can to climb it, or take it down entirely.

What’s the first movie that comes to your mind when you think about high school hierarchies? Personally, my mind always goes straight to Mean Girls. In the movie, the clique of mean girls known as the “plastics” claim their spot at the top of the social food chain and are essentially the royals of their high school. When the new girl Cady first arrives at school, they surprisingly take her into their exclusive group. Naïve to their claws at first, she happily joins them as the newest member of the plastics. Before long, however, she uncovers their “Burn Book,” which includes gossip and nasty comments about all the girls in the school, and decides that it is time to take down the Queen B: Regina George. So, Cady devises a plan and begins giving Regina caltine bars that intentionally make her gain weight, and attempts to cut off her relationships with the other plastics. In a sense, Cady is starting a revolution against Regina George.

Similarly, in Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” he discusses his own thoughts about Revolutions, specifically focusing on the French Revolution. He personally takes a stance against the idea of revolution in general. First of all, he claims that there are significant “limits on a priori reason.” There are limitations as to what one single person can decide. An individual cannot simply choose to start a revolution or choose to make a change in society on their own. Furthermore, Burke claims that the best solution is to “put my foot in the tracks of my forefathers, where I can neither wander nor stumble.” He says that people should stick to the path that their forefathers laid out for them, and emphasizes that people should live off of tradition. Everyone has a place in “The Great Chain of Being,” and should stick to their role in society’s hierarchy. Additionally, Burke stresses that along the lines of tradition, people should accept whatever freedoms they inherit as their “entailed inheritance.”

In Mean Girls, the students’ “entailed inheritance” comes from their social class, gender and interests. Whatever group they identify with determines the amount of social freedom that they have in high school. However, even though Burke argues against revolution, Mean Girls shows that uprising against those in power can be effective and successful. The movie concludes with the plastics finally being broken up and Regina George fallen down from the top of the social hierarchy. Cady’s attempt at taking Regina George down ended up being successful. While in some cases it is best for people to just stay in their places, it is also crucial to keep in mind that if the right situation presents itself, you can always try and change the conditions in which you live in.


3 thoughts on “The High School Hierarchy

  1. This was a very interesting way of looking at Burke’s reading. When I read it I didn’t even think of Mean Girls. I do think he would have agreed with Cady, that there needed to be change and something had to be done about Regina. He did represent change, but I’m not sure he would agree with how Cady went about establishing that change in the school; the overall goal was achieved eventually. Burke would’ve been proud.


  2. First of all, I really enjoyed reading your post. The way you connected Mean Girls to Burke’s findings definitely clarified some things for me. I was impressed with he connections you did make, and I truly think that Burke would have agreed with Cady, and the way she went about trying to get change in the high school “jungle”.


  3. I also really liked reading your post. It definitely helped me understand Burke’s reading better. It was a very interesting way to picture what Burke was saying and I enjoyed the connections you made. I also agree that Burke would have seen why Cady needed to make a change in the high school.


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