The Remains of the Day

Professionalism and Englishness in The Remains of the Day College

In The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro exemplifies English identity from the perspective of the butler of a prominent estate, Mr. Stevens of Darlington Hall. Ishiguro uses Mr. Stevens’s account to establish English identity, allowing Mr. Stevens’s conservative perspective to be a commentary on that identity as it relates to professionalism and integrity. Ishiguro’s rendering of English identity privileges service (though not necessarily professionalism) over all, and other facets of humanity like pride and integrity are expected to yield to service; however, Stevens’s conservative nature slightly exaggerates these aspects of English identity as the society around him gradually begins to liberalize its Englishness, relaxing its privileging of professionalism.

Mr. Stevens is both the protagonist and the narrator of the text, and as the narrator, he communicates to the reader in such a way that evinces Ishiguro’s authorial intent to establish his account as unreliable. Stevens’s unreliability only applies, however, to certain contexts, and in many other contexts, the reader is led to trust his explanations. Broadly, one of the reasons Ishiguro does this is to make it easy for the reader to ultimately view English identity as...

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