“Whose Body?” and Societal Obligations

“No, Bunter, I pay you £200 a year to keep your thoughts to yourself. Tell me, Bunter, in these democratic days, don’t you think that’s unfair?”

“No, my lord.”

“You don’t. D’you mind telling me frankly why you don’t think it unfair?”

“Frankly, my lord, your lordship is paid a nobleman’s income to take Lady Worthington in to dinner and refrain from exercising your lordship’s undoubted powers of repartee.”

Lord Peter considered this.

“That’s your idea, is it, Bunter? Noblesse oblige—for a consideration. I daresay you’re right. Then you’re better off than I am, because I’d have to behave myself to Lady Worthington if I hadn’t a penny.”

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009. isbn: 9780486473628.

This dialogue between Lord Peter and his butler, Bunter, highlights the idea of  role of the individual within society. Bunter essentially tells Lord Peter that they are the same; both are paid to fulfill social obligations and expectancies of them, and that it’s their ‘noblesse oblige’; or, the responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged. It illustrates that, in a way, no one is different from each other as we all must play specific roles and parts within society, and that is simply how life is.