Servants on Top

Colin Fine colin at
Mon Jun 13 16:26:36 EDT 2005

hannibal at wrote:

>Strikes me that there's quite a literature of people who are nominally servants but actually in charge (and that there's a fairly neat ObDWJ here linking back to *Conrad's Fate*) - a large enough literature to have a few sub-categories of its own - and I do like subcategories! Here's a few at random, to add to Nana and the Streatfeild examples:
>The Admirable Crichton (to compare with Nana?)
>Man Friday
>Sancho Panza
>Old Mus' Hobden. 
>Mrs Bird in the Paddington stories
>Lear's Fool
>Uncle Tom (another ObDWJ!)
>the witty slaves of classical new comedy and its Elizabethan/17-century descendants
>Of all these I think we might usefully ask, for starters: 'How feudal are *you*?'
Toinette in 'Le Malade Imaginaire' (I was in a rehearsed reading of this 
in Halifax last Friday, so it's fresh in my mind).

Suggested subcategories:
1. The master is posing as the servant
    1a. Long-term
    1b. For some specific event
2. The servant has some sinister hold on the master
3. The servant is so good at everything that the master relies on him 
and doesn't even realise
4. The master is stupid and doesn't realise the servant is running rings 
around him.



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