Discourses of Service in Shakespeare’s England by David Evett (auth.)

By David Evett (auth.)

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The materialists whose voices have dominated critical discussion of these questions for a couple of decades have persuaded academic students of plays and other texts that the illusory subjectivity of individual subordinates, constructed as it is by the discourses of social relationship, whose nature is in turn dominated and determined by their masters, includes elements of passivity and helplessness that keep them in their place. 32 The question urges itself whether biological, psychological, perhaps even spiritual factors enter the nexus, whether there is not something in or beyond many people that makes them ready to welcome another’s mastery.

In its most rigorous form, the theory holds that the determination is absolute—that D. Evett, Discourses of Service in Shakespeare’s England © David Evett 2005 36 / discourses of service in shakespeare’s england not only all we can express but all we can know is what language allows us to express and know. This theory thus holds that language is in effect generated by language. The language generated, moreover, is the decisive component of a feedback loop in which the representation of experience so shapes the perception of experience as to determine the extension of experience in the form of actions.

15). For practical purposes only this third group existed in England in the period with which we are concerned. In most cases, the relationship meant that the servant ate meals cooked in the same kitchen as those of the people she or he served, and slept within the same walls if not necessarily under the same roof. And if the master no longer had power of life and death, the “family” connection extended to the point where the head of the household effectively stood in loco parentis to its servants, controlling their behavior even in such personal matters as whether, when, and whom to marry.

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