Servants were often regarded by employers as intellectually and socially inferior. Many employers thought that servants were as much in need of guidance and care as the children.
Although Dickens' own mother did not die until 1863, just seven years before him, it is thought that Dickens regarded her as 'lost' while he was still a child.
Though initially fond of her, he resented her for sending him to work in a factory at 12 years of age, and for keeping him on there even after his father was released from debtors prison. This caused an emotional breach that persisted long into adulthood.
Idleness was considered coterminous to immorality, leading one magistrate to remark 'Idleness is a never-failing road to criminality'.
Although the upper-classes had leisure time, they too were expected to perform certain social or charitable duties.
Society’s attitude towards idleness in captured in William Hogarth's series of engravings, Industry and Idleness (1747), an instructive work intended to demonstrate to children the rewards of industry and the perils of indolence.