Social setup in Chrestomancy books

JOdel at JOdel at
Tue May 21 12:28:46 EDT 2002

<< And does anyone else have a problem with the social setup in the
Chrestomanci books?  If you are a powerful enchanter why do you need
servants... >>

Well, as Chrestomancy explains it. They are ALL employed by the British 
Government (except the kids, who are being raised in a government facility). 
Some, primarily as maintenance staff. They all pretty much have to be 
magical, but apart from that it sets up pretty much like my Department where 
there is the Director, whose job is to justify our existence to the Mayor, 
Council and CAO, which is done by referencing the work done by the 
Professional staff, supported and enhanced by the Technical staff, and kept 
track of by the Clericals. In our case, the building is maintained by 
employees of another Department, but I kind of suspect that L.A> City Hall is 
rather bigger than Chrestomancy Castle and is open to the public five days a 

What I suspect throws us off is the fact that the Castle is maintained in a 
manner which is consistent with our worldview of a luxurious private 
residence. (Which it almost certainly once was) Bernard (the financial 
wizard)'s duties may have something to do with that, since the Government 
seems to have given the Castle staff a high enough vote of confidence to 
allow them to administer their own funding, which includes the upkeep and 
maintenance of the Castle itself. (SInce the Castle is almost certainly used 
for key meetings among government officials and representitives of 
Chrestomancy's opposite numbers from other governments, the public rooms need 
to be maintained on a certain grand scale in any case.)

>>I do think that Charmed Life is more conservative than most of her books.
There is a definite implication that the ill-educated hedge-witches are not
capable of running their own affairs.<<

Actually it isn't that, it's that they aren't taught theory and tend to get 
themselves in over their heads. Worse, they do things without realizing the 
far-reaching effects. Chrestomancy's department seems to give most hedge 
witches and wizards a pretty long leash, actually. But there is a point where 
you have to pull the plug. The Coven Street Conspiracy crossed that line and 
did it deliberately. There was nothing arbitrary about Chrestomancy's 
response. They were attempting to overthrow a Governmental body. Said body 
nailed them, and nailed them good. They were lucky not to be shot for treason.

>>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.<<

Which is clearly not the case at Chrestomancy Castle, as demonstrated at the 
dinner table. This alone is a clear indication that the social setup among 
the Castle residents is not that of your typical employer/servant dynamic. 
There does seem to be a division between the professional and maintenance 
staffs, however. But the line seems to be fairly easily crossed.
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