Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The first person Esther Waters meets when she arrives at Woodview is William Latch, the son of the cook under whose direction Esther is to work. William is the worry of his mother’s life, for, like his dead father, he is a gambler. Mrs. Latch has hoped that William would become a delivery boy and leave Woodview, but William is determined to go into service for Mr. and Mrs. Barfield, the owners of Woodview, so that he can observe their racing stable.
The position as kitchen maid at Woodview is a godsend to Esther, for her stepfather, claiming that he has too many mouths to feed, has forced her to leave home. The workhouse might have been her only refuge if she had not secured a position with the Barfields. In spite of her efforts to do her work well, however, it is hard for her to get along with the other servants. Mrs. Latch seems to go out of her way to make life unpleasant for her, and the maids tease her because she is religious. William is at first her only champion among the servants, for which she is grateful to him. Then Esther finds an unexpected friend in her mistress, Mrs. Barfield, who is also deeply religious.
Learning that Esther cannot read, Mrs. Barfield tries to teach her. William continues to pay her special attention, to the anguish of Sarah Tucker, another of the maids. After a servants’ ball in celebration of the victory of one of the Woodview horses, William takes Esther out to some wheat stacks and seduces her,...
(The entire section is 1124 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Esther Waters Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!