Frances Burney’s real life concern and question regarding male virtue is shown in her text by the representation of the character ‘Lord Orville’ in Evelina. “Seemingly, her response to mankind’s disgrace was to fashion her own paragon of masculine behavior” (416). She gave the fictional character extraordinary politeness in order to create an ‘ideal man’.
Then, Hamilton mentions that 20th century critics disagree with the 18th century critics. Saying that Lord Orville is not as exciting and perfect as they made him out to be. “He is sexually uninteresting”.
Regardless of the contrast in criticisms; there was a rise in politeness during the 18th century and Hamilton says Lord Orville was proof of this. Does his ‘politeness’ (or lack their of, after reading his letter to Evelina) enrich our understanding of issues of gender and power in the 18th century?
In class we discussed how we think Lord Orville is the suitor that Evelina will end up with at the end of this novel. Do you think this is an accurate statement? (Don’t answer if you KNOW the answer) If not, who else do you think Evelina will end up with? Also, do you feel that Lord Orville is the ‘perfect man’ or did the letter he write to Evelina scorch that opinion? Do you agree with the 18th century critics or the 20th century critics?
Hamilton, Patricia. "Monkey Business: Lord Orville and the Limits of Politeness in Frances Burney’s Evelina." Eighteenth-Century Fiction (ECF) 19.4 (2007):415+. Print.