Privacy and Impertinence: Talking about Servants in Austen

HOCKENHULL-SMITH, Marie (2020). Privacy and Impertinence: Talking about Servants in Austen. Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, 40 (2).

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With a few exceptions Austen does not give servants a distinctive character. Though she may acknowledge the material fact of the labour they do, she rarely brings them forward as individuals. It is noticeable that modern re-writings of Austen's novels often prioritise filling this fictional void. Given the fascinating perspective this offers, it seems pertinent to ask why Austen herself did not do it. This is partly a political question, which also takes us into the social issue of trust and what was appropriate to share in a community. The issue may appear to centre on manners, and has generally been viewed so by critics; but I argue that underlying the manners are ideas about privacy and confidentiality which relate to the way these issues were unfolding in the law—and still are, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Spring 2020 edition
Uncontrolled Keywords: master and servant law; privacy and confidentiality; eighteenth-century servant plays; private theatricals; 2005 Literary Studies
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 11 May 2020 14:23
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 01:46

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