The Remains Of The Day: Contrasting The Upper And Lower Classes

1593 words - 7 pages

In The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro places Mr. Stevens’ stay at the Taylors’ house directly after Lord Darlington’s abrupt dismissal of two Jewish staff members, and he uses different tones and the repetition of key phrases in the two incidents to contrast the generosity, respect, and hospitality of the lower class with the racism, cruelty, and emotional detachment of the upper class nobles. Ishiguro especially contrasts the way the two classes treat each other with the courtesy of the lower class and the apathy of the upper class. Ishiguro uses a generally cold and distant tone while Lord Darlington is speaking to Stevens about firing the Jewish housemaids; however, he uses a warm and friendly tone when the Taylors and the rest of the villagers are speaking and being described. These contrasting tones exemplify the cold distance of Lord Darlington and the warm friendliness of the Taylors, and further of the upper and lower classes.

In a memory of Darlington Hall, Mr. Stevens recounts a time when Lord Darlington heartlessly fired two Jewish housemaids without any notice, just because of their religion. Ishiguro has Lord Darlington use a very blasé tone during his conversation with Stevens to show his apathy while firing the two employees and furthermore show the racism of the upper class and their indifference to the rest of society. At the beginning of the conversation, Lord Darlington opens by saying: “‘I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking, Stevens. A great deal of thinking. And I’ve reached my conclusion. We cannot have Jews on the staff here at Darlington Hall’” (146). Lord Darlington almost randomly starts talking about firing Jewish staff members, without any preamble, showing the ease with which he can speak of firing employees. He has no concern for the future of the employees, or any sympathy for their situation. To Lord Darlington, firing staff members does not involve any humaneness as he offhandedly remarks, “‘We cannot have Jews on the staff here at Darlington Hall.’” Lord Darlington does not name the Jewish employees, or identify them in any way further than their religion, showing his emotional detachment from the whole situation. He then follows by saying: “‘It’s for the good of this house, Stevens. In the interests of the guests we have staying here. I’ve looked into it carefully, Stevens, and I’m letting you know of my conclusion’” (146). He uses this statement to qualify the former; however, he still does not identify the housemaids or make any reference to them. Lord Darlington only worries about the “interests of the guests,” not the interests of the two employees he is firing. He is also extremely indifferent towards the feelings of the people, as he does what is “good for this house,” not what is good for the employees within it. Finally, Lord Darlington adds: “‘It’s regrettable, Stevens, but we have no choice. There’s the safety and well-being of my guests to consider. Let me assure you, I’ve looked into this...

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