Generally, governesses were treated as servants. Jane Fairfax dreaded such a career, seeing agencies dealing in 'governess-trade' as 'Offices for the sale – not quite of human flesh – but of human intellect'. However, Miss Taylor (Emma's governess) shows there could be exceptions: she is a beloved member of the household. Miss Lee seems to have preceded Fanny in being a 'companion' to the lady of the house as part of her duties. In the amateur theatricals, Mr. Yates thought a 'mean, paltry part' could be best undertaken by the governess.
The impertinent interrogation of Elizabeth Bennet by Lady Catherine reveals how the Bennet girls were educated at home. There were private tutors, but no governess: '...such of us as wished to never wanted the means. We were always encouraged to read, and had all the masters that were necessary. Those who chose to be idle certainly might.' Sterner parents than Mr. and Mrs. Bennet might have ensured their daughters studied. In Mansfield Park, Sir Thomas Bertram visited the school-room to 'examine' Fanny 'in French and English'.