Lord Orville

While reading Evelina, I kept thinking of how her situation and relationship was shaped in the eyes of Lord Orville.

For Evelina, it was either have Lord Orville as a lover, or not have him at all. Thus, parting away was not just to quit loving him, but to quit being his friend.

Do we have to choose between having a certain man as a lover, or not having him in our lives at all?

Lord Orville and Mr. Macartney were the two gentlemen that she had been interacting with in Vol 3.  They were similar in the fact they were both carrying for Evelina, but different in the way they had approached her. Evelina never said she would quit Mr. Macartney, but she did say she has to leave Lord Orville. Evelina kept questioning her relationship with Lord Orville and never understood the confusion that she was in. However the letter she had received signed by his name, was her guide to his personality.

Evelina, in various letters to Mr. Villars showed her distress for losing her friendship with Lord Orville (page 372). She had made her decision to leave him. But, why should she have to lose his friendship?

Lord Orville is interested in being with Evelina regardless where she would be. He was pleased to see her at the Cliffton Highiets. He was behaving naturally as he was unaware, in fact ignorant of the letter that Evelina received. He was also obvious about his interest in Evelina, and she also noticed that. His interest made him look more awkward and mysterious. He seemed like a man whose actions were not following his words.

For Evelina, a man who rejected her, like Lord Orville, would not be playing fool and ignorant. Why did he send the letter if he had any feelings for her? At the dance, he danced with another lady. Evelina might have thought of him as a womanizer, or a foolish young man. Either characteristics made Lord Orville look worse. For a young man to be undecided or unable to stick to his word, was not the type of a man that would be suitable for marriage. He changed his mind between wanting Evelina, flattering her and dancing with her, and rejecting her and dancing with another lady. Thus, it would be better for Evelina to leave him than stay.

It was easy to see Evelina’s perspectives through her letters. However, I think it would be more interesting to look into this from the prospective of Lord Orville. He had no idea of the reasons that made Evelina pull away. She was cold in many ways. He saw Evelina and Mr. Macartney were exchanging papers or letters. Lord Orville got jealous because Evelina met Mr. Macartney several times. These were hits for him that she might have loved Mr. Macartney. So, to know her more and know her secrets, he behaved as a brother. If in case she had a lover, he would not lose his dignity.

Evelina did not want Lord Orville misunderstand her or lose her reputation (pages, 334-335, 337). She did not want him to leave her, but she wanted to be the one who was leaving her. It was her opportunity to revenge. She would reject him back. Thus, only when Lord Orville was around her that she would be more conscious about dealing with Mr. Macartney. She knew that situation would make Lord Orville jealous of her, and might leave her. And, Lord Orville noticed that she was not comfortable dealing with Mr. Macartney while he was around. This made Evelina more mysterious.

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.

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.

Reading Pamela

Pamela is a very interesting novel to read especially because it is mainly based on letters. Letters are told in the first person; emotions are explained or expressed after the event that is while writing the letter. Had the novel not been a letter, we could have learned more about the the speaker or other characters. Some letters are freely written, but not always. Writing censored letters could lead the writer to hide some of the events, or not to express ones true feelings.

In Pamela we are almost dressed up as Pamela; trying to think like her. We see characters the way she sees them; she is the judge. We are not aware of other facts or characteristics of the characters. The characters in this novel are based on a young lady’s vision or prospective. In fact, not only other characters are examined by her, but also Pamela herself. She is rarely ever seen by others. So, I am getting to know Pamela, in her own eyes, and her own thoughts more than how other people see her as.

She is a young and religious girl who wants to live a decent life. She comes from a working class and low income. She works in a house where things are not turning out the way she was brought up. Her frustration and anger towards the incidents and harassments that she faces daily are the focus of many of her letters. However, how she truly sees the master is not clear in her letters. Does she carry any love for him? Otherwise why did she not find another place?

When he gives up on her, and cannot get what he wants, he ends up marrying her. This is an indication that there might be interest between Pamela and this man. However, she has not expressed that feeling in her letters. While she expresses her content and satisfaction of serving in this house, she might also have interest in receiving a better status. Having a higher rank certainly was not her main goal, but she has the interest in changing her status.

So many things are missing or unknown in these letters. When one talks about oneself, it is hard to express the true feelings or even face one’s own. The letters are sometimes hard to grasp because we do not always understand ourselves or our feelings. When denying our feelings or thoughts, we do not write about them. What we write is what we feel comfortable writing or expressing about. And, we are certainly welling to reveal it to our readers.

Pamela seems to have a hidden agenda. She sets her goals to gain a better status. The strategy was finding the man who has some wealth or better status. This way no more men will harass her, and no more working in the house as a servant. She did not wish to become a slave. Had she submitted herself to the man she loves, -if she did-, she would have been enslaved by love. Once she protected her honor, it was hard to own her body without marriage.

There are many layers reading any novel. Presenting the story in letters makes them harder to understand or know the full story of the characters.

Reading Roxana

It is more interesting to imagine a man reading Roxana than a woman. Daniel Defoe has placed Roxana in many misfortunes that transformed her into a ‘Whore’, a ‘Servant’ or a ‘greedy’ woman. Most occasions were of a manmade. This novel is threatening or warning fathers, brothers, husbands and even friends.

When she was fifteen, Roxana’s father married her to an ‘Eminent Brewer’ (page 7). It was not clear if that was her desire. However, after marriage, she was clearly not pleased ‘with this Thing call’d a Husband,” (7). This marriage was supposed to be a lifetime, but he left her after eight years.

When her father died, Roxana was 21 (page 6), he left her 5000 Livres in her brothers hand (9). She knew she was living with a fool, but had hopes that her father would protect her when she needed. After his death, she realized that her brother was not less foolish than her husband. “who running on too rashly in his Adventures, as a Merchant, fail’d, and lost not only what he had, but what he had for me too” (9).

Imagine how a father would perceive this novel? Women and their money should be guarded, at that time. Was Defoe trying to rethink inheritance? He focused on the consequences that daughters faced had they been left without bread. When Roxana’s husband left her and the kids, because he could not face poverty, she faced the damaging consequences of his departure by herself.

Some readers might see Roxana a ‘Whore’, but few will understand the circumstances that led her to use her body for money.

What could poverty do to a woman with kids? But what was more interesting was that Defoe wanted the readers to look at poverty as a man’s cause.

“My Landlord had been very kind indeed” (25), but his kindness was not for free. Had the landlord given Roxana or Amy a small job, she would not have started a range of relationships. She depended on one man after another. Roxana was about twenty-five, she could have learned tailoring, cooking, or any job at home. Her landlord could have helped her to rise without using her. Once he used her, her emotions died, and money became her goal. She favored money over honor.

Defoe wanted men to look at what values they would like to see in women. These values must be put in men first; then, handed to women. If her husband left the kids, why blame the mother for leaving her kids? If Roxana became a whore, what about the landlord? What should we call him?

The Prince repented and secluded himself after the Princess’s death (109). How do readers see the Prince? Although Roxana’s husband was a fool, he was faithful. While other men she had were cheaters, but not fool?

On page 132, Roxana switched roles of the wife and the mistress; “a Wife is treated with Indifference, a Mistress with a strong Passion; a Wife is look’d upon, as but an Upper-Servant, a Mistress is a Sovereign; a Wife must give up all she has..” While the Mistress “what the Man has, is hers, and what she has, is her own; the Wife bears a thousand Insults, and is forc’d to sit still and bear it, or part and be undone; a Mistress insulted, helps herself immediately, and takes another.”

Marriage to Roxana was slavery. “That the very Nature of the Marriage-Contract was, in short, nothing but giving up Liberty, Estate, Authority, and every-thing, to the Man, and the Woman was indeed, a meer woman ever after, that is to say, a Slave.” (148).

So, what makes a man?  A question that we keep asking.

For the Merchant, he replied that men worked hard, and women ate and drank. If it was about money and work, women could make business, and no need of a man. A single woman was in control of her well, but not a wife. Thus, if husbands overused their powers, women would no longer be interested in being married. If a man had no honor, he had no right to blame women for preferring to be mistresses over wives.

Daniel Defoe‘s novel, Roxana, services as a warning signs for men. Men should rethink their habits and behavior, and not have double standards. What we do not like about Roxana, was caused by a male character. Defoe is almost asking the readers, who are men, what kind of men would you like to be? Husbands were not being true to their wives, but they did not realize that women do not need men as men needed them. Trust was missing in this novel. Men did not trust women, so they did not give them a fair share. However, wives had to submit to their husbands even when they knew their husbands were not trust worthy.

Refugees’ Assimilating and Value

This has been a very interesting reading. It was a flashback of my memories as a refugee. Ironically, I was the one who picked this novel.

The first thing that drew my attention about this novel is Roxana’s determination to assimilate to the new culture. Roxana knew how important England was at that time. She was only ten, but was aware that London was more significant than any other city in Europe. It was her dream to live in a big crowded city like London.

How did she hear about this city or how much she knew about it, is missing from our readings.

It is possible that her well to do, or wealthy parents had made her aware of the city that they were planning on moving to. They had prepared her for moving away, and they had made the idea of moving from France a positive experience.

Refugees who suffer the most are the ones who are pleased by the idea of leaving their homeland, and they are usually the first to accept and pick up the new culture.

She first described her status as a refugee in London. She was only ten, but knew a lot about London and enough to make her a happy refugee. She was so happy to be in London, and happy to leave France, that she did not discuss any of her experiences in France. French language was the only thing that she kept alive (pages 5-6). Her family was fed up with the situation that they went through in France. They were forced to leave France because they were Protestants. They were mistreated and banished by the cruelty, as she put it on page 5. Leaving her homeland for religion gave her a sense of the importance of religion to her and her family. Moreover, it was because of religion that she was able to move to a big city as she wished.

Going back to the beginning of her story; when she landed in London, she was aware of the next step, to fit herself in this city, and be able to settle there for the rest of her life. It was not clear how she overcame all obstacles that she faced. However, like many refugees, culture and language were her greatest barriers.

Both pages 5 and 6, Roxana showed pride of how she managed to learn to be a true English-woman. She was very proud to be able to pick up the language without having any accent like other immigrants. It was her way to fit with the society and not be isolated as a foreigner. On page 6 she explained her first steps to become an English woman. She was put to an English School, and there she learned the ‘Customs of the English Young-Women.’

She emphasized on her linguistic ability. She was able to pick up a new language as a native speaker; she was able to speak a ‘Natural English’ page 6. It was obvious that keeping an accent was not accepted and odd, or perhaps out of fashion. Native speakers usually find it hard to accept foreigners who are unable to communicate with local people. She had no more barriers, so gave herself a credit for not remaining her accent, ‘nor did I so much as keep any Remains of the French language tagg’d to my Way of Speaking,’ she sayed. Then, she criticized other foreigners, “as most Foreigners do.” (page 6).

At the age of ten, Roxana learned to put away her culture and homeland but not her religion. Her determination to learn a new culture and language were her first challenges that she had faced. She was fully aware that picking up new culture and language would allow her to assimilate to the new world, and be accepted.

The Tragic Character

Oroonoko a truly tragic novel, but who is the tragic hero?

First, ‘tragic hero’ is the literal character who makes a choice that would lead to his death.

So, who is the ‘Tragic Hero’ in Aphra Behn’s novel Oroonoko?

The main focus in this novel is Oroonoko. His desperate search for his wife Imoinda overshadows many actions that are taken place in the novel. Throughout his life, or throughout the novel, his mind is to ‘where to find his wife.’ Despite the fact that his life keeps shifting from one place to another, his mindset is only driven to one direction, Imoinda. It is a fact, when looking for a missing person, one will not be able to live an ordinary life. He is almost not aware of other activities that he is engaged in because his mind is absent. Within time, Oroonoko is almost worn out because of his passion to Imoinda.

However, did he choose to lose Imoinda? Did he choose to live miserably?

Things do not settle even when Imoinda and Oroonoko meet. Once he finds Imoinda, his anguish does not end. In fact, it increases until he decides to end Imoinda’s life. By killing his beloved Imoinda, he collapses and loses his strength. Not because he did not eat, but because of grieving over losing his wife and regretting the fact that he killed her (pages 72-73). His weakness caused him to lose balance and later get killed.

If we take the string of actions from the beginning till the end of this novel, we see that Imoinda has a lot to do with what happened to her and Oroonoko. She is the character who, from the start, had a choice between accepting the royal veil or not. Although not accepting the royal veil means death, still dying with dignity is a choice. She accepted to live with a man while she is married to another (pages 18-19). Looking at this from a different prospective, this is polygamy. She accepted the royal veil, or accepted to be a maid or slave without thinking of Oroonoko’s dignity. Her acceptance of the royal veil caused Oroonoko and herself to suffer, and eventually die. Ironically, she later welcomes her death because that could keep her from being raped (71). But, she did not have the courage to refuse the proposal and die as a true lover.

As much as I read this novel and think about it, I see that Oroonoko is a victim of Imoinda. The consequences of her choice to accept the royal veil brought many tragic events, and eventually their death.

Hello

Hi,

my name is Sana. It is pleasure to be here reading novels. I have an M.A. In Linguistics. I love Arabic literature. Now it is time to explore British literature in the 18th century. I love traveling. And I see reading novels as another way to learn more about other cultures, just like traveling.