Social setup in Chrestomancy books

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Wed May 22 04:38:32 EDT 2002

JOdel, quoting me:

>>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.

That is actually a very good point.  There is no strict servants' hall hierarchy
at the Castle.  The upper servants (Bernard the Finance man, Michael the tutor,
and so on) all eat dinner _and socialise_ with their employers (Chrestomanci and
family).  The social division between family and servants is more one of
background - in any organisation the professional staff have a sufficiently
different (educational) background from the maintenance staff that a social
division will form.  But it's not strict, nor imposed externally.

Is DWJ being subversive again here?  The outward appearance of conservatism,
when analysed, shows the master/servant structure to be a disguise for a much
more modern employer/employee structure - Something that domestic service in our
world may aspire to, but seldom reaches.  Perhaps we should look at employment
generally - not just domestic service - in this light?


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