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

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Tue May 21 11:34:46 EDT 2002

> Have you seen Gosford Park?  And the Edwardian Country House on Channel 4?

No telly, I'm afraid.

> Yes, the servants did form a community, but lower servants were not even
> supposed to speak to upper servants, and male servants were not allowed to
> have any physical contact with female servants.  I'm sure they did get
> around these rules, but they were still living at the whim of their masters.

Yes, I agree 100%.

BUT I think this is a reflection of working conditions in Edwardian times, and
how they translated into domestic service, NOT something intrinsic to domestic
service as a field of employment.  Domestic servants nowadays aren't treated
like that at all.

For example the strict upper/lower servant hierarchy was typical of many fields
of employment.  Factory workers would never speak to engineers, or even to their
foreman, unless it was to give a report necessary to the work.

> A ladies maid would be up to get her mistress up and dressed work all day
> and stay up until she came in from whatever dinner or ball she had attended,
> with no lie-down in the afternoon... and if the young master kissed the
> governess and got caught, the governess would get the sack with no
> references.  I agree with you about the governesses - paid female companions
> had a pretty poor life too.

Yes, although in theory at least the paid companion was supposed to be a part of
her employer's social circle, almost by definition.  But again you are talking
about Victorian/Edwardian working conditions, not about conditions that
necessarily obtain in domestic service.  (I also think that here you may be
finding extreme cases and assuming they were typical).  Another example - 100
years ago, any worker might get turned off without a character, at the whim of
his employer, so your governess example doesn't provide an illustration of
domestic service being worse than other professions.

Over the last century or so, working conditions have improved enormously
(compare the factory worker of today with the factory worker of 1902).  We don't
see this in domestic service, not because it hasn't happened, nor because
service isn't susceptible to improvement, but simply because it isn't
widespread, and we don't see domestic service as it goes on today.

(I fear I may be ranting.  Perhaps I'd better stop...)


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