10 Carolyn Steedman Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English . about one servant and one master and the changing shape of their relationship. Carolyn Steedman (Author) . Steedman's Master and Servant is a valuable addition to our understanding of work and domestic life in this cradle of industrial society. The book focuses on the relationship between a Church of England. Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age. By Carolyn Steedman (New York, Cambridge University Press, ) pp. allows Steedman to ponder the changing nature of the master-servant relationship in itself.
The final proof of Murgatroyd's cherishing kindness to his servant and her daughter comes with the opening of his will in Steedman is as interested in the stories we tell about the past as she is in what actually happened in that faraway country.
The handmaid's tale
Her concern in Master and Servant is not merely to rescue Phoebe Beatson from bad melodrama, but to show how even the best-intentioned historical writing can end up making us see things that aren't there or, more specifically, not noticing what isn't. The object of her particular attention is EP Thompson's classic, The Making of the English Working Class, which draws most of its data from the same small stretch of time and place where Phoebe, Murgatroyd and Thorp came from.
Thompson, famously, gave a hugely influential account of how the home-based workers of the Calder and Colne valleys were turned into a deskilled proletariat by the coming of industrial technology to the local textile industry. Many historians have tinkered subsequently with Thompson's model, pushing it back and forward in time, playing with its shape and boundaries. Steedman's beef, however, concerns much bigger matters.
She maintains that Thompson actually left out the largest category of the working class from his analysis: Steeped in Marxism, Thompson simply couldn't see how servants, who appear to produce nothing beyond a nicely polished stone floor or the occasional pot of jam, could be worked into his epic tale about labour and capitalism.Top 10 Master-Servant Relationship Anime
Add in the fact that domestic workers tend not to pop up in the written record - Phoebe Beatson herself could not write - and it has been all too easy to leave them out of the story of industrial Britain's origins.
Instead they have become a silent army of sad-eyed girls female servants vastly outnumbered males waiting to be corralled into stock plots about serial seducers and hard-hearted employers. Of course, teasing out the unforeseen truth of Beatson's life is not enough to radically rewrite Thompson's analysis, although it is certainly sufficient to complicate it. In the same way, Steedman uses the fact of Murgatroyd's gentle, generous Anglicanism as a way of reminding readers of Thompson and all who came after that the God who stalked the Calder and Colne valleys in the late 18th century was not necessarily a Methodist one, steeped in righteous opposition to the established order.
These may seem like pedantic points to anyone but professional historians of industrialising Britain. Murgatroyd was far from a hegemonic presence: He drew eclectically from seventeenth-century divines to Gil Blas and Tom Jones, and believed in Judgment and the Atonement; but fundamentally, his was a religion of the heart: Love for children was an imperative and this contributes towards another important claim of the book: But surely he loved his dutiful servant also, for labor itself can both constitute and generate other kinds of loving: We cannot know whether Beatson loved her employer or what he meant to her.
While the novel is ignorant of the legal ramifications surrounding service examined by Steedman, it depicts, she suggests both traditional and modern types of servant. Joseph is the old type; he sees the Heights as his home and will never leave. This is an important rejoinder to the many critics who judge Nelly the co-opted voice of class and patriarchal power; yet the distinction between Nelly and Joseph is too forced.
Nelly certainly has her limits, will not be pushed, but she continues to see her labour in familial and affective as much as contractual terms: Indeed her slightly arched disapproval of Zillah may be that she is rather too calculating. But ultimately it is unclear quite what Steedman wants to make of her story.
Steedman turns instead, very confusingly, to the Herderian mode of interpretation she finds in Wuthering Heights: This is not helpful. Yet this history contains its own silences, distortions and projections. Thorp may have been all too typical of the men who continued to abandon their offspring long after the Bastardy Clauses were supposed to have solved the illegitimacy problem.
Other men and women supported irregular households and informally took responsibility for children who were not their own.
Review: Master and Servant by Carolyn Steedman | Books | The Guardian
That mentality did not vanish over night with the onset of industrial capitalism. Perhaps, afterall, the drama enacted at Lingards-cum-Slaithwaite was far more ordinary than we have imagined.
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