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|To be fair to the more egalitarian side
Written by helena6
(3/13/2003 10:30 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, What *is* wrong with having servants?, penned by KatherineA
I can understand that some feel it is not. I can understand that some find her pity for Elizabeth Bennet or even Miss Bates distrubing when she does not even bother to recognize there were those that did not have anything to eat.
Her gypsie attack has been said to be a sort of subversive comment on local poverty but others don't necessarily agree.
I can understand the view that the notion of a higher and more "refined air" is highly judgemental and ridiculous. In a way I too agree. Who cares how Mr. Martin walks and talks - what is important is how he acts, his character and what he knows. What would it matter if he was clownish anymore than it should matter that Charlotte Lucas is plain?
The lifestyle of the upperclass was meant to enforce a kind of elegance the lower classes could never even aspire to holding. And that is somewhat disturbing IMHO. There is a thread of entitlement and desert as though these qualities made them better people.
Elizabeth Bennet's defence is that she is a gentleman's daughter and therefore Darcy's "equal". The message is not that she is his equal because she is a person or intelligent or even chosen by Mr. Darcy - but based on her birth rank.
There is of course much to contradict this view. BUt I think the discomfort has merit. Strong merit - there were contemporaries that did not feel as Austen did.
] Do you really believe that JA really appreciated our so-
] People work for other people today - I do very long hours for my employer in my office job for a few pounds so I can live.
And my dear does it make it any better today than it was then? Austen recognized it when it was a member of her own class being forced to do so. I sympathize with Jane Fairfax and her having to go into service. But I am never asked to sympathise with Hill, Jessima, Mrs. Reynolds, Hannah or countless other mentioned servants. I am sure none of them earned what I might consider respectable wages (except perhaps Mrs. R).
But then Austen was not Charles Dickens - I am not sure she wanted to shape the opinion of her audience in that way.
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