Schizoid Personality, Kazuo Ishiguro & The Remains of the Day.

“Stevens puts his absolute trust and devotion in a man who makes drastic mistakes. In the totality of his professional commitment, Stevens fails to pursue the one woman with whom he could have had a fulfilling and loving relationship. His prim mask of formality cuts him off from intimacy, companionship, and understanding.”

–              Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro is Booker Prize winning British novelist, who wrote an interesting novel, Remains of the day, which focuses on pre-World War II period. Narrator is British butler called James Stevens.

1

James Stevens was devoted to his master Lord Darlington and was a very efficient Butler. Lord Darlington believed that Treaty of Versailles was unjust to Germans, so was sympathetic to Nazis. He was very keen to improve relations between British and Germans, he use to keep meetings of British and Germans politicians at his mansion- Darlington Hall. Lord Darlington was ably served by butler James Stevens and house keeper Miss. Kenton.

James did not see world beyond his job as butler to Lord Darlington. He did not have any personal life. In three critical events of his life he gave more importance to his job than human relations. He continued with his job even when his father was dying, he fired two Jewish maids in Darlington Hall  because Lord Darlington was infatuated with Nazi ideology of Germans, lastly, he could never reciprocate feeling Miss. Kenton had for him resulting in Miss.Kenton quitting service and becoming Mrs.Benn.

2

”Lord Darlington wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a bad man at all. And at least he had the privilege of being able to say at the end of his life that he made his own mistakes. . . . He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted that I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?”

  • James Stevens, The Remains of the Day.

 

Schizoid Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of detachment from social relationships. A person with schizoid personality disorder often has difficulty expressing emotions, may appear to lack a desire for intimacy, and will avoid close relationships with others. He may often prefer to spend time with himself rather than socialize or be in a group of people.

“Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in – particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.”

― James Stevens, The Remains of the Day 

James is a typical case of such personality disorder. He cannot understand why people joke or  have fun (in James words- banter). His new owner is an American called Mr. Farraday, a jovial person, so just to please his master; James resolves to learn bantering as part of his job!

 

 

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