Study of the past: the saint and the witch

To judge a person, we need to know what he/she has done, over a longer period, or even in his/her whole life. So I would like to take a step back and look at what happened before the story. There are two people that I am particularly interested. First, Reverend Arthur Villars. Second, Madame Duvall. These two individuals are representing an extreme of good and evil that a person can get in the 18 century London.
Arthur Villars is like a saint; he took care of not only Evelina but also Evelina’s Mother and Grandfather. Initially, I thought he was a stubborn old man that says no to everything. But after knowing what happened before the story, I can feel the struggle in his heart when reading his words; he was the true father of the Evelyn line, but helplessly he had to watch them fall, one by one. He wants nothing but the best for Evelina, but he worries that the world will take her, the very last angel of his, away too.
“Your Ladyship may probably have heard, that I had the honour to accompany Mr. Evelyn, the grandfather of my young charge, when upon his travels, in the capacity of a tutor.”(20)
“He survived this ill-judged marriage but two years. Upon his death-bed, with an unsteady hand, he wrote me the following note:
“My friend, forget your resentment, in favour of your humanity;-a father, trembling for the welfare of his child, bequeaths her to your care. O Villars! hear! pity! And relieve me!”(21)
“Monsieur Duval, sent for her to Paris. How often have I since regretted that I did not accompany her thither!”(23)
Madame Duval, or we may also say Mrs.Evelyn, is ridiculously selfish and would do anything to get herself benefit. Without suggesting anything, just look at the numbers: Mr.Evelyn died after two years marrying her. She tried to “sell” Evelina’s mother right after she turned 18 and disowned her after failed. For that I would say, she as a mother, has nothing to do with Carline’s growing up, but has a lot to do with Caroline’s miserable fate. Now Evelina is 17, and Madame Duvall shows up, once again, is trying to sell her granddaughter just like what she did to her poor daughter.
“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”(16)
“Madame Duval to abandon the unfortunate Lady Belmont, at a time when a mother’s protection was peculiarly necessary for her peace and her reputation.”(17)
It is fascinating to find the author has made these two people the very opposite side of humanity. Villar gives all the love he can to help Mr.Evelyn, Carline Evelyn, and Evelina, he brings knowledge and education to them. On the other side, to the same individuals, Mr.Evelyn, Carline Evelyn, and Evelina, Duvall tries to take advantage of each one of them. All she cares is her self-interest, she does not care if her action will bring the worst to others. Many famous stories after the 18 century have comparable distinctive characters, and perhaps Duvall is one of the origins of the “old witches”?

One thought on “Study of the past: the saint and the witch

  1. In every story plot there arises a problem and a solution to fix the problem. In this case Madame Duval’s character is problematic. Could this be a commentary on aristocratic individuals at the time?

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