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ENL 4122
English Novel


Spring 2006
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00-12:15 pm


Class 14

Reading Assignment:

Feb. 27 Evelina Vol. II, pp. 111-224
    Post #7 (Group A)
    Historical Annotation: Joanna Wood and James Conn

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Class Objectives:

  • To discuss the middle volume/ plot center
  • To address class issues in the novel

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Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. Volume 2 -- plot center

Some criticism of Evelina praises it for beings a precise novel of manners. How is the work a novel of manners? How do manners differ in the second volume of the novel?

The debate over Evelina's suitors continues in the middle section of the novel, as Evelina moves back from the country (Howard Grove) to London to Berry Hill and finally to Bristol Hotwells. How does Evelina's identity change with the locations she occupies? (See p. 212.) How does this affect her marriageability?

When critics focus on the manners and morals of Evelina, they generally refer to the codes of femininity to which Evelina learns to conform. Little has been said about the scrutiny of male conduct that goes on in the novel. How does Burney's critical edge turn on masculinity? Compare the characters, for example, of Willoughby and Macartney. Discuss the worthiness of each of Evelina's potential suitors: the younger Branghton, Mr. Smith and M. Du Bois.

How does Lord Orville's role develop in this section of the novel? If his first impression of Evelina led him to call her a 'poor, weak girl,' how can we account for his continued interest in her?

Why is Evelina shocked at Orville's "letter"? What does it imply? Why is letter writing between a young woman and a man a questionable activity?

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2. Class Issues

When Villars tells Evelina she must go to London with Mme. Duval, he advises her: "You will have occasion, in the course of the month you are to pass with Madame Duval, for all the circumspection and prudence you can call to your aid: she will not, I know, propose any thing to you which she thinks wrong herself; but you must learn not only to judge but to act for yourself" (II.viii.135).

What does the narrative tell us about Mme. Duval's class and status? How does her behavior belie the "quality" she assumes? What signs do we have of her "affectation"?

How is class or status defined in the novel? What signs do we have of Evelina's natural gentility?

Compare Evelina's behavior on her very first visit to London (at the private ball, at the Ridotto, upon meeting the Branghton's) with her behavior on the second trip (with the Branghton's and Mme. Duval, with Macartney, etc.). What has she learned in the interim? How has her voice changed?

How are her environments and acquaintance marked by class distinctions in this visit to London? How are these class markers different from the first visit to London with the Howards? Where is Holborn and what is its significance?

What is the connections between class and manners? What is the connection between morals and class?

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3. Historical annotation

Kensington Gardens, Holborn, crime (Highwaymen)

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