How did Esteban treat and interact with the peasants in the "House of the Spirits?"
"It would be lovely if we were all created equal, but the fact is we're not"
So says Esteban. As the head of the family and of the plantation, Esteban is a hard-nosed, strict, and generally uncaring leader. He treats the peasants almost as slaves, believing that just by giving them work he has improved their lives; therefore, there is no need for kindness. He can work them long and hard and harshly and not feel guilty. The worst manifestations of his attitude are the rapes. He thinks little of raping the women on the estate, believing them to be his property. He treats the women in his family much the same way.
This attitude of Esteban underscores the theme of class division in the story. The political struggles involve the attempts of the working-class of the unspecified country to gain equal rights and equal opportunities. These peasants back the idea of socialism, believing it will level the playing field. However, in the military struggles that ensue, their ideals and hopes are dashed in the rise of a strict dictatorship. Just as the Trueba woman try to overcome their family's dictator, the working class of this country are trying to overcome theirs. In this way, the storyline that covers the Trueba estate mirrors the larger social and political storylines of the novel.
Esteban believes that the tenants are not capable of performing tasks by themselves. In a strict dictatorship, he does not allow the tenants to talk back to him because he is always right. The "House of Spirits" show a strict social hierarchy where it is divided between patron and tenants -- with no social interaction in between.