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The Nature of a Mistress-Servant Relationship in Daniel Defoe's Roxana

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Relationships play a large part in the average modern day person's everyday life, just as relationships were important in the past. Although types of companionships have somewhat changed over time, the presence and importance of them still remains. Viewing, analysing and comparing other individual's relationships to our own is something most people do, as a sort of assurance that things are natural. This is why many people are interested in novels about ways that other human beings interact with individuals and groups. Daniel Defoe's character Roxana has her own way of interacting with and manipulating people. In his novel Roxana, Defoe uses examples of extreme faithfulness from the Amy to demonstrate the intimate relationship present between Roxana and her servant.

Amy's loyalty to her mistress is evident from the beginning of the novel when we are also told by Roxana herself that Amy is as "faithful to [her], as the Skin on [her] Back"(25). Amy proves this when she says: "if I will starve for your sake, I will be a Whore, or any thing, for your sake; why I would die for you, if I were put to it" (28). This is proven true over the course of the novel, but immediately after those words are spoken, our narrator denies that Amy should be a whore for her. Later in the novel, however, Roxana takes Amy up on this offer, and excercises her power as a mistress to abuse Amy's loyalty by forcing her to sleep with the Landlord. Roxana tells us:

Nay, You Whore, says I, you said, if I would put you to-Bed, you wou'd with all your Heart: and with that, I sat her down, pull'd off her Stockings and Shooes, and her Cloaths, Piece by Piece, and led her to the Bed to him: [...] She pull'd back a little[...] and then I threw open the Bed, and thrust her in (46).

The reader later learns that Roxana's reasoning for this is that she wants Amy to be equal to her - that is, equally as horrible. She says to Amy: " A Whore![...] am I not a Whore as well as you?" (47). These words seem to be testing the relationship between the mistress and servant, bue Amy goes on to deny that her mistress is a whore, but the reader feels certain that Roxana only uses Amy to feels better about herself; she does not want to be a Whore alone. Although Amy is upset about this incident at first, both the mistress and the servant ultimately gloss over the term "whore" and become comfortable with their status, and closer to one another because of their secret.

At the start of the novel, Roxana gives Amy the task of abandoning her children. Amy performs this task without asking any questions, as a loyal servant of friend should. The children are only brought back into the novel when Roxana realizes that one of her daughters is living in her home as a cook maid. Amy is again given the task of dealing with her mistress's children. She dresses up and visits them, giving them money on their mother's part, while careful not to reveal the secret about Roxana. When one of the children figures out who her mother is, Amy kills her against Roxana's wishes. This goes to show how loyal she is: even though she disobeyed her mistress, she treated the incident as if the daughter had wronged her, rather than Roxana. This may just be what the murder is about - Amy has been close to Roxana for so long, sharing the secret identity, that it has almost become her own secret in many ways. Her choice of words - "she'll ruin us all" (272) (using "us" instead of "you")- shows that she feels as much in trouble as her mistress; on the other hand, her loyalty is still evident when she tells



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