Evelina’s Education

Evelina’s knowledge of social norms is something that Evelina has learned as time progresses. This knowledge can be coined in the term as Evelina’s education. There is a difference between the ways in which Evelina responds to social norms when she is with the Mirvan’s, and when she is with the Branghton/Duvals. When she is with the Mirvans, she comes to the realization that there are certain rules governing behavior. For example, when Evelina goes on outings with the Mirvans, she discovers that it is not proper to dance with strangers. For example, she states “Now Maria’s partner was a gentleman of Mrs. Mirvan’s acquaintance; for she had told us it was improper for young women to dance with strangers, at any public assembly. Indeed it was by no means my wish so to do; yet I did not like to confine myself from dancing at all; neither did I dare refuse this gentleman” (44).
Evelina also discovers that it is not proper to laugh in regards to a person of status. Evelina makes this confession when she discusses Captain Mirvan’s first acquaintance with Madame Duval. Evelina states, “I heard no more; amazed, frightened, and…shocked…I sunk into Mrs. Mirvan’s arms (57).
Upon learning that Evelina is in the care of Madame Duval, Mr. Villars advises her of proper conduct, For example, he states “Conduct yourself towards her with all the respect and deference due to so near a relation, remembering always that the failure of duty on her part, can by no means justify any neglect on yours: indeed, the more forcibly you are struck with improprieties and misconduct in another, the greater should be your observance and diligence to avoid even the shadow of similar errors. Be careful, therefore, that no remissness of attention, no indifference of obliging, make known to her the independence I assure of…” (60). The education that Evelina had before arriving staying with the Mirvans has been to be in terms of character development. For example, she has been taught integrity, kindness, and politeness. When Evelina stays with the Mirvans, her education consists of how to conduct oneself in a genteel society. For example, she discovers that there are proper codes of conduct. Although she is not at first keen to these traditions, she soon as the story progresses learns the rules, and finds her place in society.
Evelina is able to maintain her place in elite society, as a result of her education. Her education has enabled her to weather the difficulties. For example, Lady Howard comments on her excellent education. Lady Howard states, “She is quite a little rustic, and knows nothing of the world, and though her education has been the best, I could bestow in this retired place, to which Dorchester, the nearest town, is seven miles distant…” (20). Evelina is able to survive because she is quite keen to her surroundings. For example, Lady Howard to the Rev. Mr. Villars states, Her character seems truly ingenious and simple; and of at the same time the nature has blessed her with an excellent understanding, and great qualities of parts, she has a certain air of inexperience and innocency that is extremely interesting” (22). Therefore, since Evelina may not truly understand the ways of the world, she is quick and adaptable. She can quickly adjust to her environment, as seen in the many characters she lives.
In contrast the education that Evelina learns with the Mirvans contrast with the lessons she learns from the Duvals. I would say that when Evelina first comes to stay with the Mirvan’s her education is surface, as concerning politeness and being friendly and compatible, but when she is with Madame Duval, she learns how to distinguish herself within society. With the Mirvans, Evelina learns that there is proper behavior for “balls, plays, operas, ridiottos” (61).
With Madame Duval, Evelina learns proper behavior. She learns that there are certain rules governing fashion. She is first acquainted with fashion with the Mirvan’s, but she develops a better understanding with the Duvals (65). From Madame Duval, she learns proper conversation; she learns not to discuss politics while in her conversations with others (66). Also, when Evelina comes in contact with Sir Clement Willoughby, she learns the fewer the words, the better off she will be (71). For example, Evelina states, “He stopped; but I said nothing, for I thought instantly of the conversation Miss Mirvan had overheard, and supposed he was going to tell me himself what part Lord Orville had borne in it; (71).
In my opinion, Evelina’s education consisted of learning the social norms of her community. As the novel progresses, we see that she learns how to master these norms, and she even develops as a character.

Social Norms in Evelina

Through various characters in Evelina, Frances Burney demonstrates the preoccupation with reputation and propriety that is often associated with England in the eighteenth century. This theme is made evident in the first exchange of letters between Lady Howard and Mr. Villars. In her account of Madame Duval’s letter, Lady Howard acknowledges Madame Duval’s concerns for her own reputation: “she is totally at a loss in what manner to behave; she seems desirous to repair the wrongs she had done, yet wishes the world to believe her blameless” (Burney 11). Lady Howard goes on to condemn Madame Duval’s faux pas of writing to her at all: “it is evident, from her writing, that she is still as vulgar and illiterate as when her first husband, Mr. Evelyn, had the weakness to marry her; nor does she at all apologize for addressing herself to me, though I was only once in her company” (Burney 12). Lady Howard’s disdain for Madame Duval is obvious, and it seems that Duval’s failure to uphold social mores plays a key role in Howard’s categorization of her as an “unworthy woman” (Burney 12). Meanwhile, the mutually apologetic and gracious tones employed by both Lady Howard and Mr. Villars present these two as being very much aware of (if not obsessed with) social norms, and an urgent desire not to offend one another at any cost.

While this emphasis on manners is attributed to multiple characters, it is arguably the most significant trait of the protagonist, Evelina. She is constantly worried about offending others or embarrassing herself by going against social norms that she is unfamiliar with. She uses the word “shame” or “ashamed” numerous times when describing these anxieties: when asking Mr. Villars for permission to go to London (“I am half ashamed of myself for beginning this letter” [Burney 25]), when she can’t afford to buy anything from the mercers in the shop (“they took so much trouble, that I was almost ashamed that I could not” [Burney 30]), her anxiety during her first meeting with Lord Orville (“I was seized with a panic, that I could hardly speak a word, and nothing but the shame of so soon changing my mind, prevented me returning to my seat” [Burney 32]). Evelina describes her own self-consciousness as being a result of her upbringing as a “simple rustic… one whose ignorance of the world makes her perpetually fear doing something wrong!” (Burney 33). Of course, this ignorance is the impetus for the entire plot of the novel. As Burney explicitly states in her preface to the novel:

To draw characters from nature, though not from life, and to mark the manners of the times, is the attempted plan of the following letters. For this purpose, a young female, educated in the most secluded retirement, makes, at the age of seventeen, her first appearance upon the great and busy stage of life; with a virtuous mind, a cultivated understanding, and a feeling heart, her ignorance of the forms, and inexperience of the manners, of the world, occasion all the little incidents which these volumes record, and which form the natural progression of the life of a young woman of obscure birth, but conspicuous beauty, for the first six months after her Entrance into the world. (Burney 7-8)

By having a protagonist who is very much unaware of many of the social customs that governed British society in the eighteenth century, Burney has the freedom to comment on established conventions in a way that calls attention to them without actively condemning them. I’m curious to see how this plays out in the novel (at the moment I’m still reading Volume I), and how much Evelina assimilates into life according to these rules (if at all).


Works Cited

Burney, Frances. Evelina. New York: Penguin, 2004. Print.

 

Evelina: The lowly, country, bumpkin comes to London.

First off, I would like to say that Evelina has been the most interesting book I’ve encountered since starting at MU. Moreover, it is a genuinely good book, not simply interesting “in comparison” to other books I’ve had to read.

I am mildly at a loss of what to write in response to Evelina. This may be in part because I actually liked this book; however, the only think I can place a finger on is Evelina’s character growth through the first two volumes through her social interaction. Her growth is a direct result of being insulted by those around her, Evelina taking that in and using it to better herself and her character.

While Mr. Villars and Lady Howard make Evelina’s inexperience quite obvious, to the readers, Evelina herself makes it known the to the world by her characterization of a ballroom in which she sees “half the world” (19). Especially as she interrupts Mr. Lovel’s “ridiculous solemnity” to laugh openly in his face after rejecting his invitation to dance: “I had not once considered the impropriety of refusing one partner, and afterwards accepting another” (24). Evelina takes away a great lesson after this encounter, mostly because she is mocked for it as said by Mr. Lovel: “I hope [Evelina] you have enjoyed your health since I had the honour—I beg ten thousand pardon, but I protest I was going to say the honour of dancing with you—however, I mean the honour of seeing you dance” (69). From this point forward, Evelina is more aware of her surroundings especially in social settings.

From her perspective Evelina advances her situation by applying her initial embarrassment to avoid future embarrassments and takes note of “what not to do” in others’ behavior. Evelina is offered a ticket to a ball by Mr. Smith. In this exchange, Evelina “[thanks] him, but desired to be excused accepting it” and takes note that “he would not [. . .] be denied, nor answered, and, in a manner both vehement and free, pressed and urged his offer till [she] was wearied to death” (171). Even as Miss Polly and Miss Biddy lead her into a dangerous situation, which Evelina is able to run away from, she recognizes Miss Biddy’s terrible attitude towards her: “You ran away from me! Well, see if I don’t do as much by you” (196). Evelina is “so much surprised at this attack” (196), but does not condescend to Miss Biddy’s petulance but simply takes note of it and does not rise to the bait. By taking in the different forms of abuse, Evelina enables her growth and learns what is truly like as a woman out in society.

Evelina’s acute observational skills are what set her apart from whichever crowd she is surrounded by. Her initial embarrassing episode is enough to make her a woman keenly aware of her surroundings, thus pushing her over the threshold into becoming a woman of society (versus the lowly country girl she was referred to in the beginning and throughout volume II by her cousins).

 

Burney, Fanny. Evelina. Minola: Dover Thrift Editions, 2015. Print.

Dancing as a Common Custom

In London people apply the best costumes, wear wonderful clothes and attend the best social events. It was the heart of Europe. Since common customs in Europe were not similar, one must be prepared to live in such a place.

Our readings, Roxana and Evelina brought my attention to dancing as common costume.

When Roxana came to England she was put in an English school to learn the language, proper costumes, and to become an English young-lady (Roxana, p. 6). Later, Roxana did not struggle in public. Her knowledge of the costumes gave confidence and power. She danced at any time, and with anyone. These costumes were taught not given.

However, Evelina was not as lucky as Roxana. She came to England unprepared, and had limited understanding of the society. She did not know what to expect and what to learn. Mrs. Mirvan’s family who took care of Evelina was not aware of Evelina’s unpreparedness. They did not know much of her background education. They assumed, but never asked. They overestimated Evelina’s knowledge to common costumes, such as dancing because they assumed that she learned how in France. They were expecting her to be ready for a private ball. However, a private ball in London was not like the ball in France. “A private ball this was called, so I expected to have seen about four or five couple; but Lord! my dear Sir, I believe I saw half the world!” (page 31).

Dancing in a private ball was a skill that people in London considered as common, but it was not for Evelina who had never been to a dance. This atmosphere was all new to her. “He appeared to be surprised at my terror, …  for I did not chuse to tell him it was owing to my never before dancing but with a school-girl.” (p. 33).

Not only she was not experienced, she was not familiar to these events. The pressure she was in; she was expected to behave as an English lady, made things worse. Her friend, Maria tried to tell her briefly of some costumes when dancing, “But you must speak to your partner first.” (p. 33). In public dance, one must not dance with a stranger. “for she had told us it was highly improper for young women to dance with strangers, at any public assembly.” (Page 44)

Evelina knew she was not prepared to these occasions and lacked instructions. She was not pleased with herself, “I was quite ashamed of being so troublesome, and so much above myself as these seeming airs made me appear; but indeed I was too much confused to think or act with any consistency.” (Page 34). She knew her public image is not neat anymore.

There were times when she tried to recall the rules she learned at school, but it was too late.  She added, “A confused idea now for the first time entered my head, of something I had heard of the rules of an assembly, but I was never at one before,–I have only dance d at school,–and so giddy and heedless I was, that I had not once considered the impropriety of refusing one partner, and afterwards accepting another. I was thunderstruck at the recollection: while some warmth, said, ‘This lady, Sir, is incapable of meriting such an accusation!” (p. 36).

It was unfortunate and unfair to Evelina to be put in a public place in a metropolitan area and expect her to act like a native lady. Luckily though, when Evelina raised her concerns, Mrs. Mirvan was wise enough to take responsibility of this unhappy occasion. “I then told Mrs. Mirvan my disasters, and she good-naturedly blamed herself for not having better instructed me, but said she had taken it for granted that I must know such common customs.” (Page 37).

Roxana knew all that glory that surrounded London, even though she was very young when she went to England. Evelina on the other hand, was lost. She, not only had no proper training, she was not even aware or told of such costumes and lifestyle. No one told her of what to expect or what might go right or wrong. She was unfortunate to have lived with a family that had never observed people of other background.

Double-Standards of the 18-Century

The author satires the double standards of 18 century UK society towards two groups of people:
1.A male-ruling society double-standard the moral principles of male and female. Relatively lenient on men and harsh on women, yet most female accept this, obedience this, and even helps to maintain the double standards.
“Remember, my dear Evelina, nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman; it is at once the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things.”(Villars,183)
“O you cannot, must not be so barbarous.” And he took my hand, and ran on, saying such fine speeches, and compliments, that I might almost have supposed myself a goddess, and him a pagan paying me adoration.”(Evelina, About Lord Merton, 124)
“And, surely, my dear Sir, it was a great liberty in this lord, not withstanding his rank, to treat me so freely.”(Evelina, also about Merton, 124)
“Lord Merton was determined not to know me before Lady Louisa”(Evelina, 321)
2.An authority-worshiping society double-standard the definition of decency for different social classes. Extolling no matter how the higher class acts, and frequently despises lower classes for not following the unspoken rules, and the extreme of reacting are often expressed from a lower class who has just adopted the rules, towards their new peers.
“I confess I seldom listen to the players: one has so much to do, in looking about and finding out one’s acquaintance, that, really, one has no time to mind the stage. ”(Lovel, 89)
“No, Sir,” cried I, with some spirit, “I would have that gentleman vote,-if, indeed, he is not superior to joining our party.” They all looked at me, as if they doubted whether or not they had heard me right: but, in a few moments, their surprise gave way to a rude burst of laughter.”(Evelina, 214)
These two similar cases about double standards cached my intention; it seems like there is a pattern in it. I try to take the view of an 18-century citizen of London, to read and discover what has the author hide beneath this pattern.
Limiting my view to an 18-century London citizen, without pulling in modern thoughts, I can still see a pattern here: A group of people that contains group-A and group-B inside, generates an entirely different judgment upon the same action, in the same case, done by an individual form separate groups. What has happened here? Group-A gains the social leading position by whatever way and consciously weakens the status of group-B by setting up double-standard rules, spoken or unspoken. Most individuals of group-B accept, adopt, follow, and at last become a force to straighten the double-standard rule. It may look very understandable(although not agreeable) for group-A to increase their dominance; however, the react of group-B, especially when we see most of the group-B fighting even harder to secure group-A’s superior, that is what makes our day gloomy, indignant, and even desperate. The pattern reminds me of more similar cases repeatedly appears in the history of every nation on our planet, conquerors and the conquered, slaveholders and the slaves, old immigrants and newcomers, the same old drama from thousands of years ago keep on playing till today and pathetically maybe tomorrow.
The emerge of this pattern, in most cases, meaning the completely lost of group B’s independence, and the start of a total slavery, from flesh to soul. But when we come back and take a closer look at these two cases in the book, and try to think about it, it is rather shocking. These two groups, female and male, nobles and citizens, they were NOT different parties at all, they live together from the very beginning. They were split by themselves, by the very same group of people they lived together within the same society! Imagine your right body enslaves your left body, and most parts of your left body seriously think that your right body is more premier than the left. That sounds no smarter than any animal, and it makes me doubt the group intelligence of us as one species.
“it is the general harbour of fraud and of folly, of duplicity and of impertinence”(Villars, 129)
Group intelligence has always been ridiculously ruined by the avarice of some individuals. The only reason that people from group-B will support the double-standard for their own group is the hope of becoming one of group-A and have someone to bully by themselves. As we see in the book, upstarts seek for newer people in the high society to mock on, senior women find younger girls to judge on, and unsuccessful people find the poor to look down upon. All these double-standard actions towards their own group are clearly shameless, immoral, and lacking even a shred of social responsibility.
“Never can I consent to have this dear and timid girl brought forward to the notice of the world by such a method; a method which will subject her to all the impertinence of curiosity, the sneers of conjecture, and the stings of ridicule.”(Villars,142)
Now the logic naturally leads to how to eliminate this idiotic but widespread double-standard and self-division of our society? I am triumphal to see, even with very simple logic and information no further than an 18-century human should obtain, it is not hard to be lead by the book to see a bright spot in the darkness — equality. From here I would say although it’s just a love story, after all, the positive thoughts in this book are far more important to the 18-century society than Pamela is.
“the right line of conduct is the same for both sexes”(Villars, 242)

The Exchange of Sentiments

In his introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of A Sentimental Journey, Paul Goring explains that the term “sentimental” was still fairly new during Sterne’s lifetime. While its definition was somewhat ambiguous, Goring provides the reader with a basic idea of the concept: “‘Sentiment’ was generally used to mean a thought or a reflection which was produced from or informed by emotion; it conveyed a ‘mental feeling’ – an attitude which is at once intellectual and emotional, and typically this attitude concerned moral conduct” (Goring xxi). One pattern that I found interesting in Sterne’s novel is the association between such ‘mental feelings’ and their physical manifestations. In the second chapter (“CALAIS.”), Yorick discusses the physical effects of being in good spirits:

When man is at peace with man, how much lighter than a feather is the heaviest of metals in his hand! He pulls out his purse, and holding it airily and uncompress’d, looks round him, as if he sought for an object to share it with—In doing this, I felt every vessel in my frame dilate—the arteries beat all chearily together, and every power which sustained life, perform’d it with so little friction, that ‘twould have confounded the most physical precieuse in France: with all her materialism, she could scarce have called me a machine— (Sterne 6)

According to Goring’s note on this passage, Yorick seems to be echoing the materialistic philosophy that was popular in the mid-eighteenth century. This association between physicality and mentality reoccurs throughout the novel, frequently in regards to communication. In the chapter titled “PREFACE IN THE DESOBLIGEANT.”, Yorick seems to imply that communication between people of different backgrounds is difficult because their experiences are incommensurable:

‘Tis true we are endued with an imperfect power of spreading out happiness sometimes beyond her [nature’s] limits, but ‘tis so ordered, that from the want of languages, connections, and dependencies, and from the difference in education, customs and habits, we lie under so many impediments in communicating our sensations out of our own sphere, as often amount to total impossibility. (Sterne 11)

As the novel progresses, however, we witness Yorick have numerous meaningful interactions with people from ‘out of [his] own sphere’. These encounters demonstrate the power of physical actions and body language as aids to communication. To name a few: the physical exchange of snuff boxes with the monk in Calais; the first encounter with Madame de L*** at the remise door (“I felt a pleasurable ductility about her, which spread a calmness over all my spirits” [Sterne 18]); the discussion of “making love by sentiments” inside the remise (Sterne 26); Yorick’s decision to hire La Fleur at first sight (“the genuine look and air of the fellow determined the matter at once in his favour” (Sterne 31); his displeasure at the postillion’s rapid departure from the man lamenting his dead ass (“the fellow gave an unfeeling lash to each of his beasts, and set off clattering like a thousand devils” (Sterne 41); the scene where Yorick feels the pulse of the woman in the shop in Paris (“if it is the same blood which comes from the heart, which descences to the extremes… I am sure you have one of the best pulses of any woman in the world” (Sterne 50); the list goes on. In the scene in the opera box (from “THE TRANSLATION. PARIS.”), Yorick acknowledges the power of non-verbal communication:

Translate this into any civilized language in the world—the sense is this:

“Here’s a poor stranger come in to the box—he seems as if he knew no body; and is never likely, was he to be seven years in Paris, if every man he comes near keeps his spectacles upon his nose—‘tis shutting the door of conversation absolutely in his face—and using him worse than a German.”

The French officer might as well have said it all aloud, and if he had, I should in course have put the bow I made him into French too, and told him, “I was sensible of his attention, and return’d him a thousand thanks for it.”

There is not a secret so aiding in the progress of sociality, as to get master of this short hand, and be quick in rendering the several turns of looks and limbs, with all their inflections and delineations, into plain words. (Sterne 54)

This “short hand” plays a valuable role for Yorick in his travels, and these seemingly trivial interactions make up the meat of his narrative. Yorick’s truly is a “sentimental” journey.


Works Cited

Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Mr. Yorick. Ed. Paul Goring. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print.

 

Burney’s Style

Author of Evelina, Frances Burney’s style when writing her text is unique. While she strongly encourages creativity, she still sticks to the conventions of the day which draw on Fielding’s notion of capturing the human experience, and the “manners of the time.” These manners are particular to specific times and places for individuals. Burney strongly believes in creativity that those individuals who are strongly sparked by reason, according to Margaret Anne Doody, fail to progress within the novel and are stunted. These conventions used by Burney were part of the conservations of eighteenth century London. These conventions were defined by their realistic characteristics. In capture emotions that were common to people of the day, and the actual places where many people who lived in London traveled (examples England, France, and other locations). The true nature of Burney’s quality in style was to find value in the simple. For example, she writes, as stated in the Preface, “The heroine of the memoirs, young, artless, and inexperienced is no faultless Monster that the world ne’er saw but the offspring of Nature, and of Nature in her simplistic attire” (8). Thus, the value of the main character is her simplicity, from which many readers could relate. With this desire to capture the human experience is to depict, individuals in realistic terms, or rather the average individual. The story is told using letters, as if it is the own personal exchanges between characters. Most of our perceptions are based upon which character has written a letter.
According to Doody, creativity is important, and it is so important that rational characters, such as “Villars, Orville, Macartney and Evelina are handicapped in making progress in the world” (xv). This novel is no different from other novels of the time, which sought to discuss the average life of the citizens of the time. Doody states, “Like Fielding, Burney offers us general truth, Human Nature, and she too emphasized her role as a current historian, recording contemporary behaviour (xvi). Leonard Davis, questions this notion of capturing “Human Behaviour” which Burney attempts. His criticism is based on the idea that human experience is only applicable for individuals in particular time and places, for example what may be characteristic for eighteenth century London, may not apply to different centuries even in the same location. The situation that may be questionable within Burney’s text, is based on as Doody notes, her depiction mostly of upper class society, who as Doody states, “whose register of Manners was above that of the circle she usually frequented, as well as with a number of personages whose behavior was much rougher than that of middle-class world” (xvi). Even in the Preface, we see a statement made about the “manners” of the majority of the citizens of the time. For example, Burney states, “To draw characters from nature, though not from life, and to mark the manners of the times, is that attempted plan of the following letters “(7). The style of the writing is interesting. The author in the Preface states, “entertain the gentle expectations of being transported to the farthest region of Romance, where Fiction is coloured by all the …tints of luxurious Imagination, where Reason is outcast, and where the sublimity of the Marvelous, rejects all aid from sober Probability (8).”
The human experience is captured by drawing on the emotions in which every parent or guardian has for the upbringing of their children. For example, the story starts with the letters of Lady Howard and Mr. Villars about the orphaned infant, whose mother is now passed. This story has realistic characteristics in that all families are concerned with the rightful upbringing of their children and Mr. Villars is no exception, be he feels that Mrs. Evelyn’s character would not be a good fit for the young daughter (14). In the story, “manners” and a proper upbringing are the values that are important within the novel (14). The heroine is a child of the wealthy “Baronet” (19). The young child has a nurse. Like Fielding and others Burney rejects the romanticism and seeks to promote simplicity and innocence. For example in one letter between Lady Howard and Mr. Villars the writer states, “Her character seems truly in generous and simple; and of the same time the nature has blessed her with an excellent understanding…she has a certain air of inexperience and innocency that is extremely interesting” (22). M. Howard further states, “You have no reason to regret the retirement in which she has lived; since that politeness which is acquired by an acquaintance with high life, is in her so well supplied by a natural desire of obliging, joined to a deportment infinitely engaging” (22). Therefore, to aspire to values and characteristics of high society is important to the proper upbringing of children. This is seen to be the human experience, in that many parents and guardians can relate to these concerns in the desire to guarantee the future of their children.
Also, there is realism in that places within the novel are actual places (England, France, etc.).
While Burney promises to fill in the gap where “Richardson, Rousseau, Fielding, and Smollet have left uncovered, (she writes, “though they may have cleared the weeds, they have also called flowers, and though they have rendered the path plain, they have left it barren” (9). She still falls into the traps of their conventions, as seen in this attempt to capture the realistic aspects of society at the time.

None for you, Monk.

Religion is not a main topic of concern of Laurence Sterne in his A Sentimental Journey, it is however, mentioned just often enough to make it a topic of interest. Yorick, Sterne’s main character, begins his travel journal with a rejection of a religion via a Monk, but ends his tale with dancing in support of piety. The Monk changes Yorick’s perspectiving on giving, and is ultimately redeemed when Yorick himself is shown charity and kindness by a family who provides him dinner.

Yorick’s initial contact with religion in ASJ  is when he meets a Monk in Calais, who “came into the room to beg something for his convent” (7). Yorick is determined “not to give him a single sous” (7) but quickly regrets his decision: “I had no right over the poor Franciscan, but to deny him; and that the punishment of that was enough” (9). Yorick’s initial attitude towards beggars is softened after meeting the Monk for more than a minute; he even reminds himself to “learn better manners” as he goes about his travels (10). Thus, Yorick has his first experience with religion during his travels.

Yorick’s experience with the Monk makes him a more generous man. In Montriul “the sons and daughters of poverty [surrounded]” Yorick and he found himself compel himself to give out a “few sous” (35). His generosity comes through later when he meets a girl in a book shop and gives her money: “I never gave a girl a crown in my life which gave me half the pleasure” (64). Though this girl is no beggar, Yorick is acquiring a taste for giving and one can see the transition from a miser to a much more generous man.

Lastly Yorick comes across a man who is able to sway women into giving him money by flattering them. Yorick is more than ready to give the man “a sous or two out of [his] pocket” but the man is only interested in “[asking] charity of [. . .] little women” (91). As Yorick watches the man as he “begg’d for a twelve-sous piece” from each woman (103), only to discover that the man sweet talks these women into giving him money. This last moment of charity for Yorick is interesting because it is literally the opposite of how his money giving adventures started. The Monk asked for nothing, but Yorick is let with a man who has the audacity to ask women for a specific amount of money

There is no mention of religiousness throughout the course of the novel, however, when charity is bestowed upon Yorick in the form of a dinner he is graced with a performance of a family’s religious devotion: “[The father] had made it a rule [for] his family to dance and rejoice; believing [. . .] a cheerful and contended mind was the best sort of thanks to heaven” (114). For Yorick, there is a twinge that religion ignites in him that leads him to cloister his money or turn loose his pocket strings. But in the only act of charity and grace bestowed upon him, Yorick is much more open to another man’s religiosity finally seeing how charity may work in one’s favor.

Sentimental Journey 101

While reading this novel, many questions were in my mind;

How sentimental Yorick is? How would he describe Sentimental feelings?

The connection between the title and the journey is not obvious. So, I googled the word Sentimental to see different definitions listed in different dictionaries. Looking at the words I found similar answers, Emotion, specific notion, view based on feelings, and judgement based on feelings. They are all related to feelings.

Sentimental Journey starts with a reasonable, logical man, Mr. Yorick who has almost no connection to others. As he travels around Europe, he gets to know some people and come close in contact with others. While he might see that sentimental, we find his interaction with these individuals lack sentimental feelings.

My interest is to compare Mr. Yorick before and after, and check his character toward women. Before his journey, this man had almost no emotional attachments to anyone or possibly to anything. He never mentioned passion or missing anyone. According to him, “Sentimental Traveller (meaning thereby myself) who have travell’d and of which I am now sitting down to give an account – as much out of Necessity and the besoin de Voyager, as any one in this class.” (page 13).

Because of different Necessities, travelers like him might not see the necessity to put time on others. I gathered that sightseeing in France or Italy is what defines the world to him. He did not make the sense of the importance of meeting individuals on this trip. Nevertheless, his journey made him more aware of the real world, the world that is full of people and connections. The fact that he almost lacks the emotional connections; he is usually surprised by others’ emotions and notions that he witnesses. He is discovering his senses and feelings towards others, and towards himself, while he views others.

For example, after he was rude to the monk (page 8), he saw the beautiful lady speaking to the monk. At that time, he became more aware of the degree of his rudeness to the monk. He immediately thought that this monk was complaining about him. He wanted to correct his attitude. This is a sentimental act that he took as a reaction to what he observed. The lesson he learned, never be rude because you never know who will hear of your rude reputation.

Although we are not aware of his past relationships, we are aware of his attitude towards women. From his reaction to the monk, I can tell that Mr. Yorick has taste in women. He likes to show the ladies his good side. As much as he was able to face and talk to many men, he was almost always mute with women. It is possible that it was due to his strong feelings for the ladies he met in his journey. He was amused by the ladies, but was not able to describe his feeling in words. He was tied, not in body language but in verbal language. Although he was passive, he was also emotional.

One of the most sentimental feelings he felt was when he came across with the owner of the ass. He was observing the owner of the ass’s reaction to the death of the ass, while he is thinking of the world surrounding him. In volume I, page 40, he says, “Shame on the world! Said I to myself – Did we love each other, as this poor soul but loved his ass- ‘twould be something.-”

A character like Mr. Yorick brings a close look at those who have limited sensations and emotions. Having been on this journey, witnessing some emotional events, Mr. Yorick seems to see himself as an experienced traveler bringing back this Sentimental Journey for those who could not explore the word sentimental.

Sentimental Covered by Reason

Our sentimental Mr.Yorick travels across France, all the way from North to South, gathering random little stories on the way, having relationships with different girls.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.13.53 AM
So where is the sentimental anyway? It seems like, in most of the situation, Yorick is rather not sentimental, or let’s say he is somehow very reasonable. He mentioned the difference in the book: Luke-warm hearts/ Clay-cold heads. And it seems like his luke-warm hearts only secretly functions when he’s talking to a female, an attractive female.

“Yes, – and then -. Ye whose clay-cold heads and luke-warm hearts can argue down or mask your passions, tell me, what trespass is it that man should have them?”(90)

I figure he is in completely two different status when he talks to different gender: When Yorick speaks to male, he gets very reasonable, straight forward and confidence, or let’s just say he acts very normal.

“I’ve taken your lodgings for a month, and I’ll not quit them a day before the time…” (69)

Not only here, but he was also very active and confident when he went to get his passport. Even it’s a cold visit, he successfully got a passport from a man he doesn’t know at all, and he didn’t get very nervous or uncomfortable about the misunderstood, his funny title did not bother him.

But he acts not that natural when he’s with a female. Whenever he talks to a woman, lots of thoughts were told to the reader, but not spoken by Yorick, the “sentimental” thoughts turn out the be more proper words when it comes out of his mouth, for instance, he hid his thoughts here:
“I was just going to cry out, Then I will write it, fair girl! upon thy lips. -If I do, said I, I shall perish; ”(89)

When he’s with a female, his sentimental thoughts were contained by reason. The story seems very partial to him: He always gets to exist in a context that he was put together with a female, and the female is rather actively towards him, it is almost like the female has heard what his thoughts and answering him.

“so that Monsieur Dessein left us together with her hand in mine,”(16)
“I am sure you must have one of the best pulses of any woman in the world. – Feel it, said she, holding out her arm.”(53)

He only lets the voice of reason come out; his sentimental feelings to female were mostly kept by himself. (Except for Eliza, he doesn’t hide his feelings for Eliza at all.) Perhaps the author is suggesting a balance between sentimental and reason?