Countess Below Stairs

665 Words3 Pages
In the pages of A Countess Below Stairs, by Eva Ibbotson, resides a most unique character named Anna. Anna is a young Russian countess who grew up, essentially, as a princess until she was forced to flee with her family. She was thrown into the culture of the lower class as she took up a job as a common maid. This of course, is not an uncommon role or situation in many books; however what sets her apart from countless other characters is her reaction. As much as she tried, Anna could not completely mask her high class upbringing. Even from the moment she asked for a job her employers knew she was a lady (“For the girl’s accent, with its rolling “r”s and lilting intensity, quite failed to disguise her educated voice, as did the shabby coat and skirt the grace of her movements” pg 24). Inevitably, with Anna’s well-bred past came a lack of knowledge about the work and social rules that came with being a maid. Rather than simply struggling through, however, Anna borrowed and thoroughly read the three volumes of Domestic Compendium. The book taught her the general motions of being a maid including which people to curtsy to, nevertheless Anna decided that everyone was worthy of a curtsy and proceeded to do so to everyone she met (“I shall curtsy to the butler,’ decided Anna…‘And the housekeeper. Definitely I shall curtsy to the housekeeper!” pg 16). In addition to educating herself and being overly polite when she is first thrown into a society much different from the one she is used to, Anna embraces the work and culture of her new residence. For example when she is first being hired, the head butler explains all the hard work she must do (“During this time no formal training would be given and you would be expected to make yourself useful anywhere: in the kitchens, the scullery, even outside.” pg 24). Instead of giving up or complaining about the amount of
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