Inchbald

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Inchbald




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Presentations text content in Inchbald

Slide1

Inchbald continued

The fracturing of form

Slide2

To review previous claim

Inchbald

solves the most serious plot problem—the threat of incest and sacrilege—through a comic

move

:

Dorriforth

is

released from his religious vows so that he can inherit the title and estate.

Suddenly, marriage and the production of an heir are not only not disallowed but required

.

Inchbald

accommodates

desire

while making it serve

the

community (i.e., through marriage, produce heirs.

Miss Woodley:

“’I no longer condemn, but congratulate you on your passion; and will assist you with all my advice and earnest wishes, that you may obtain a return’”

(

102, 142)

.

Slide3

In other words . . .

The way in which

Miss Milner

is most

out of bounds

is resolved through the conventions of comedy.

In this trajectory, the union of Miss Milner and

Dorriforth

/Lord Elmwood seems to be the aim of the fiction.

What do you think?

Slide4

Most of Miss Milner’s other problems

her apparent attraction to a young rake,

her

changeability

arise

from her effort to conceal her desire for

Dorriforth

/Lord Elmwood.

Desire is the problem. But solved by comic form, it is sufficiently constrained to be satisfied.

REMAINING PROBLEM: To establish her power

Slide5

In comic plots, Sandford . . .

Sandford

, who is cruel and verbally abusive to Miss Milner, ought to be punished by the same comic form that resolves the conflict of desire.

He

is a vicious critic let loose in the parlor. The form should protect Miss Milner from

him.

One contemporary reader characterizes him as “severe in his morals, unaccommodating in his manners, a harsh satirist, proud, turbulent, and acrimonious.”

(See

appendix, 377)

Satirist

:

Inchbald

has incorporated a satirist in her comic romance. He points out with particular severity what Miss Milner’s failures are, and he is in continual tension with the otherwise comic patterning of the novel.

Slide6

In comic plots, Sandford . . . (2)

In the comic romance,

Sandford

would be merely an authoritarian blocking figure, repressing the energy, liveliness and generosity of Miss Milner,

Lord

Elmwood to Miss Woodley; “

’For God’s sake take care what you are doing—you are destroying my prospects of futurity—you are making this world too dear to me’”

(

130, 166)

a

romance commonplace and a sacrilege, a transferring of the power of adoration and devotion from religious to secular life

.

Sandford

must undergo a character change when

Inchbald’s

fictional purposes for him change.

Slide7

The formal, and generic, problem

arises because

Inchbald’s

comic vision is in tension with other movements in the novel and with problems that comic form cannot resolve.

scene by scene

, Miss Milner is far more frequently the one readers want to emerge rewarded, as is clear from the evidence of contemporary readers (see appendices).

Slide8

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, The British Novelists

The

character of the ward of

Dorriforth

is so drawn as to excite an interest such as we seldom feel

for more

faultless characters.

Young

, sprightly, full of sensibility, gay and thoughtless, we feel such a tenderness for her as we should for a child who is playing on the brink of a

precipice”

(370).

Slide9

This treatment of comic form is a little peculiar

---given

Inchbald’s

successful career as a dramatist. She had already shown just how much she thought comic form could accommodate. In

I’ll Tell You What

, --------

-

Inchbald

levels distinctions within the community

by

the claim that “we are all related.”

Even

marital ties disturbed by putative adultery and actual divorce are not enough to destroy the bonds of the related community. In

A Simple Story,

on the other hand

,

the disturbance of marital ties is a disturbance to fictional form.

Slide10

Miss Milner’s gender-based pride

Within a few days, in the house of Lord Elmwood every thing, and every person wore a new face

” (136, 171).

“Her heart whispered . . . ‘my power over him might have been greater still . . .’”(137, 172))

An odd narrative voice: “Unthinking woman! . . . But what female is not fond of experiments?” (139).

Miss Milner is now the proud, killing beauty.

Slide11

The scene: “You are unjust, sir, in saying so before the trial” (142, 175)“domestic wrangles—a family without subordination—a house without economy—in a word, a wife without discretion, had been perpetually present to his mind” (142, 176)Narrator’s special pleading for Sandford (followed by Lord Elmwood’s appropriate judgment: “”’Cruel, barbarous man.’” (143, 177)

The trial of Miss Milner: law

vs

forgiveness

Slide12

Quick series of plot turns

“Then he is not to be my husband after all” (163, 194)

Lord Elmwood “was moved, but ashamed of being so”((164)

I’ll make the trial . . . (166)

“to make trial of a contrary method” (167)

A different kind of trial, or a fusion of legal and experimental trial.

She is waiting for submission (173)

Slide13

Rapidity of development: what does it make you expect?

Lord Elmwood declares he will leave her forever

And she complies with his request

. (175-77)

“The severest judge could not have arraigned her conduct from the day she received Lord Elmwood’s letter to the day of his departure” (177)

She “beheld her doom” (179).

Sandford

begins to play a different role (184).

BUT THE WEDDING RING IS A MOURNING RING.

Slide14

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Slide18


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