Derk as Mad Scientist / Chrestomanci as Parasite(was: Buffy)

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Tue May 21 10:24:13 EDT 2002

>> In our own world, class consciousness and egalitarian sentiment mean that
>> few people choose domestic service as a career, simply because by taking a
>> domestic job you imply that your employer is your social superior.  OTOH have
> But also because it is life of drudgery, often isolating, and you are at the
> whim of a individual who may be a good employer or then again may not be.

Hang on.  I think you're confusing two quite different things here - the nature
of domestic service as a job, and the working conditions of the period in which
it was widespread as a field of employment.

Domestic service, in our own world (well, Western Europe and our colonies) 90
years ago or more, was often indeed a life of drudgery and all the rest.  But so
were most other unskilled and semi-skilled jobs (except for the isolating bit).
This aspect of service wasn't intrinsic - it was characteristic of the way
almost all employees were treated in Victorian and Edwardian society.

Domestic service needn't be like that.  There are still people who work as
domestic servants, albeit not as many as in days gone by.  They have benefited
from the general improvement in working conditions throughout the 20th century
just as everyone else has.  Their benefits are not the same as other workers',
but why should they be?  (Apparently domestic service, of the traditional
live-in variety, is nowadays very well-paid).

As for isolation, in the 19th century, where houses had large numbers of
servants, the servants' hall was a community in itself, almost a village.  It
was probably no more isolated than a small farming village in a remote area.
Less, I think, because most servants could escape to the local pub occasionally.

It seems to me the really isolated person in the 19th century domestic set-up is
the governess.  She is an employee, but not a servant.  She cannot socialise
with her employers, because an employee just doesn't.  But she cannot socialise
with the servants, because anyone who would join that social group is obviously
of too low a social class to bring up her employers' children.  So she is
_really_ isolated - her only social contacts are with the children she works
with.  Not surprising all the stories (I won't evaluate accuracy!) of affairs
between governesses and teenage boys in the household...


PS Sally, I did read your reply, and agree with it, but it didn't really fit in

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