A High Life, For Whom?

Dublin Core

Title

A High Life, For Whom?

Subject

Black Britons in Literature

Description

High Life Beneath Stairs is a comical play that was preformed in Britain in the late 1700’s, a time when slavery was an everyday occurance. The use of the character’s race and the dialect between them alludes to the truth about the treatment of blacks during that time. The presence of slaves resulted in a divide between the races. The white playwrights even found it necessary to note the color of a person on the casting list (shown in the first picture). The main character, Lovel, is a white slave owner, who had servants of both black and white. The servants who are black, Kingston and Chloe, are clearly labeled as such, so that the reader can picture the cast correctly and have no confusion on the character’s status. This color separation causes there to be a generalization that servants (black or white) are always inferior to their owners, and that it shall be noted where everyone falls on the social status scale. Even the white servants are treated like blacks, which, during this time, was as if they were animalistic and uncivilized. Lovel calls to his white coachman by saying “Blackey, Blackey…” and pinching his nose, similar to how a grandmother would do to her cute newborn grandson. From this it can be concluded that whites were thought of and acted as far more superior than blacks, and even treated whites who were at the same social status level as black servants as if they had black skin, too. This play is a classic representation of the social and economical hierarchy that existed in Britain during the time of slavery.

Creator

James Townley

Source

High Life Below Stairs: A Farce of Two Acts

Publisher

London: Newberry

Date

1759

Contributor

Anna Volkmann

Rights

[no text]

Relation

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Format

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Language

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Type

[no text]

Identifier

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Coverage

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Files

High.Life.png

Citation

James Townley, “A High Life, For Whom?,” Black Britons in USC Archives & Special Collections, accessed October 13, 2019, https://uscblackbritons.omeka.net/items/show/10.

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