(Author note: when hyphenated ‘-class’ is an adjective; without the hyphen refers to the noun, hence the variation in punctuation.)
The most significant prejudice to which Continentians fall, especially in the context of the trilogy, is that of class and ‘status’, valuable beyond its uses.
Whilst, in the early years of the evolving society (some families excelled in leadership, others, mutually exclusive, excelled in craft and servitude), the two classes – working and leisure – were separate and barely saw eye to eye, by the era of Percival and Octavia, three classes had emerged from the ideals of status.
The middle class remains the most prominent of classes, perhaps because of its novel place as one formed from the others. Most middle-class families of Dr. Costello’s time emerged purely from a financial position; no longer earning the most money or interest of the surrounding community, they were ‘relegated’ to a lower status, not so worthy of being observed.
In irony, the papers and presses, themselves middle class by dint of working to live, rather than out of pleasure, were the ones to call such status-reviews. (See ‘The Society Pages’ under ‘Good Blood’.)
By the time Phillip and Maximillian Folster were born, the classification of middle class had changed a deal. Now, as the Folsters were, families would be branded middle-class by their behaviour towards other classes. And, within this, tended to be kindly acts towards the lower class.
The lowest class are purely born – and rise only through marriage, the most unlikely of occasions. Working for work, as their earnings are pittance, the lower class are beyond those of help and admin careers: servants and teachers. The servants especially are treated as inferior, for the exact reason that they serve.
These lower-class people often live at their workplaces, which is generally easier for them, since paying for home in addition is not optimal.