2024 Student Research Conference:
37th Annual Student Research Conference

Feminine Resilience: Contradictory Ideas of Marriage in Burney’s Evelina

Lillie M. Morisaki
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Frances Burney’s novel, Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (1778), a female Bildungsroman, presents Evelina, the unacknowledged daughter of Sir John Belmont. Evelina’s legitimacy frames the central narrative as we see her entry into the superficial fashionable London society of the period. The novel critiques the high culture at the same time as it presents Evelina, the young seventeen-year-old country girl unschooled in social etiquette as a participant of that culture. While marriage to Sir John Orville brings happiness, social recognition, and security to Evelina, the novel’s juxtaposition of her example against the description of three unhappy marriages reveals a complex and contradictory view of marriage. This paper will explore these “two apparently contradictory ideas of marriage,” to quote Kristina Straub. Drawing on Straub’s article, “Evelina: Marriage as the Dangerous Die,” I will examine the unequal conditions women confront in patriarchal society as well as the ways in which the novel depicts marriage as both a cure and an ill.

Keywords: Frances Burney, Evelina, marriage, London, class consciousness, feminist consciousness, Bildungsroman, social conduct


Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: 105-1
Location: SUB 3202
Time: 9:15

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