Samuel Richardson explores the physical actions of genteel hands in The History of Sir Charles Grandison in order to rethink the conventional link between gentle status and freedom from labour. By showing the role that hands play in the creation and maintenance of social bonds, the novel identifies its genteel and aristocratic characters as figures engaged in a specific form of manual work. Their social labours reflect an emerging professionalism, in which the imperative to labour is not imposed from the outside but inscribed in the individual’s own sense of identity. The work of hands in Sir Charles Grandison reveals how Richardson does not so much avoid the subject of labour as expand the category to include the social interactions of high life.


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pp. 331-353
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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