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|treatment of servants
Written by Nikki N
(8/22/2013 7:04 a.m.)
This post is inspired by posts on P&P board about Darcy's treatment of his servants and how relevant it is to his basic character. Darcy was warmly praised by his housekeeper, a respectable woman who had known him since he was 4 years old. Some people, including myself, believe this is a strong indication that he has always been fundamentally a good, decent man all along, with a few faults of pride towards those who were socially almost, but not quite his equal, who unlike his servants and the poor, did not need his charity. But there are contrary views that it was only natural for any rich man to be good to servants who would always be very respectful to their master anyway. There's a post that says that Gen Tilney was good to his servants, but I find no evidence of that, on the contrary, in chap 13 of NA, when Catherine rushed into his house before the servant could announce her, Gen Tilney was angry with his servant --
In Emma, benevolent Mr Woodhouse was always thinking of his servants' comfort, while conceited Mrs Elton affected not even to remember the name of one of her menservants.
So I think the treatment of servants was supposed to be a strong indication of character. Good, principled men and women were good to their servants even if they had some faults of pride (e.g. Darcy and Emma), while unprincipled masters and mistresses were careless or even harsh in they treatment of their servants. In Anne Bronte's the Tenant of Wildfell hall, the villain, Arthur Huntingdon, was friendly and jovial with his servants when in a good mood, but harsh or even cruel when in a bad mood -- i.e. he treated them as he pleased according to his moods.
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