Remains Of The Day Essay

957 words - 4 pages

AJL Fading World of Greatness The only person that Stevens can blame for his impenetrable shell of professionalism is himself. Throughout his life he had one duty, "to provide good service"(The Remains of the Day pg.199). This central butler's duty and the professionalism that it encompasses form the undercurrent of the novel that pull Stevens away from all significant relationships, principally those with his father and Miss Kenton. This burden of duty also forced him to block out the real world and coerced him into his own insular world of a past 'Great' Britain. Here greatness, dignity, professionalism and accomplishments were unparalleled. However, when he is forced to step outside Darlington Hall on his trip to see Miss Kenton he sees it as only a brief "expedition" (pg.1) rather than a prelude to the "journey" (pg.67) he will have to undertake upon his retirement.Upon Stevens's retirement he will have to set aside his refined speech and prestigious suits. These will serve no purpose, as he is not a great aristocrat only a washed up manservant. As a butler, Stevens is amongst the bottom rung of the English social status gauge both of his father's generation measured by monetary value, and of his own generation to whom "the world was a wheel, revolving with these great houses at the hub, their mighty decisions emanating out to all else, rich and poor, who revolved around them" (pg.115). The decision-making ability at the core of the moral man idolized by his generation of butlers makes Stevens the lowest of the low simply because he has never made an independent choice in his 30 years of service to Lord Darlington. All of his decisions 'revolved around' Lord Darlington and this makes the truth of Lord Darlington's failure additionally hard to swallow, as he knows that his personal success depends on the success of 'his' Lordship.Moreover, the backwardness that permeates Stevens's character and makes him truly unreliable can be attributed to his failure to accept the obvious reality of the catastrophe of Lord Darlington's career. For example, what Steven's believes to be his 'finest hour' ought to the time that he should be least proud of. When he believes he is serving society he is only polishing the silver. In essence Stevens "misguided idealism" (pg.199) not only affected him but also "beset significant sections of our generation throughout the twenties and thirties"(pg.199). This revelation gives Stevens's reflections a greater shaping power as they provide significant insight into the downward spiral of British society.The fading power of British society must have been widely accepted because even Stevens can observe that "[t]he nation does seem to be in regrettable condition" (pg.198). The question is, what caused British society's "standstill" (pg.198)? There are two basic responses. Lord Darlington's...

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