The sky darkens outside the window while the light remains on in the conference room. Your eyes dart from the administrator's PowerPoint to the clock above the door, which has long since crept past your anticipated departure. Fidgeting with your phone under the table, you text the obligatory apology: “Sorry, hun, leaving soon. Tied up at work.”

“Tied up at work”: it is a metaphor that comes so naturally that its implicit image—of a human being, bound against his will, forced to complete a task–barely registers. But if it was deployed not in the twenty-first century, well after the abolition of slavery, but amid the period that witnessed its rise, how might that same metaphor resonate?

This is the question that Catherine Ingrassia explores in her insightful new book, Domestic Captivity and the British Subject, 1660–1750. Her goal is to take “the language of confinement, restraint, and subjection” that...

You do not currently have access to this content.