Frances Burney’s Lifelong Conflict: Proper Lady or Woman Writer

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Frances Burney’s Lifelong Conflict: Proper Lady or Woman Writer
Pennock, Martha
(Pennock Schaub, Martha Elaine)
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Subjects / Keywords:
Authors ( jstor )
Fathers ( jstor )
Gender roles ( jstor )
Novelists ( jstor )
Novels ( jstor )
Theater ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Womens studies ( jstor )
Writers ( jstor )
Writing ( jstor )
Austen, Jane, 1775-1817
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851
Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759-1797
Women authors
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


In an influential study of late 18th/early 19th century authors, Mary Poovey described a developing conflict between the woman writer and the proper lady. Mary Poovey focused on three authors: Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen. Poovey did not have access to the journals and letters of a potential fourth, Frances Burney, who is the strongest representation of this conflict. This paper describes Burney’s conflict and uses Poovey’s work to further our understanding of Burney. This paper also reveals some of the limitations of Poovey’s study. ( en )
General Note:
Awarded Bachelor of Arts; Graduated May 4, 2010 summa cum laude. Major: English
General Note:
Advisor: Dr. Brian McCrea
General Note:
College/School: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Martha Pennock. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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Pennock 1 By: Martha Pennock Readers: Dr. Brian McCrea and Dr. Judith Page A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For graduation with Honors in the Department of English Of the University of Florida April 2010


Pennock 2 Table of Contents Introduction Page 3 Chapter 1 Page 6 Chapter 2 Page 14 Conclusion Page 41 Bibliography Page 42


Pennock 3 Introduction In her widely cited book, The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer Mary Poovey outlines a conflict that dominated the lives and literary careers of women writers in the 18 th century. As her title implies, Poovey sees these authors fo rced to choose between being proper ladies or women writers. As Poovey outlines her thesis, she focuses upon three female authors: Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelly and Jane Austen E ach gave different importance to the roles, but all were caught in the con does not make her a central figure in the discussion, largely because Poovey did not have access ularly that female authors consistently struggle to maintain the illusion of decorum. Society demanding that women be decorous and domestic, the Proper Lady poss essed itself. The woman who wanted to write could obey the Proper Lady and inhibit her creative and imaginative impulses, or, more aggressively, she could engage in strategie s of resistance, from accommodation to subversion. What she could not Poovey argues that women were trapped into a certain mood of thinking and being, which Burney helps to illustrate. Burney w rites on the more conservative side of this conflict. Most of the writers studied by Poovey are more on the liberal side. Mary Wollstonecraft continually pushed the boundaries in her search for freedom: pursuing a literary career, urging women to believe t hemselves equal to men, having a clandestine relationship and birthing a child out of wedlock. She was a woman


Pennock 4 writer, even though some trace feelings remained in her writing that indicated she wanted to behave, but that she could not. Mary Shelley was the daughter of Wollstonecraft and in many the creative artist, to prove herself by means of her pen and h both by her mother, and, later, her lover and husband (Poovey, 1985, 115). Mary Shelley again represents the more liberal side of this conflict because she used her writing to defend her behavior, to assert her place in society, not exactly the work of a proper lady. Poovey concludes her analysis with d the imperatives of (Poovey, 1985, 172) History records that Austen never marrie decorous way of living, she certainly broke with many of its rules. All of these women whom Poovey discusses prove that there was a conflict between being the proper lady and the woman writer, a conflict Burney further illustrates. Burney spends her life hiding from the very writing that ends up supporting h er and her because she remained in constant fear that she would be discovered as a woman writer. She wanted to be the proper lady; however, she could not contain h er passion for writing. Because she is unable to control herself, she punishes her characters to demonstrate that women should be her characters into horrible situations: she must punish someone, lest she appear a woman writer


Pennock 5 thesis because Burney is in constant conflict with herself over her behavior. albeit slightly dated, speaks powerfully to Because only recently a large part of gives us a new way to look at all that Burney did.


Pennock 6 Chapter 1 Frances Burney did everything in as Poovey describes in the first chapter of The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer reason that women denial and even though its loss might affect her husband and his property more than the woman herself (barring, of course, unwanted pregnancy) (Poovey, 1985, 23) It was not solely chastity that the women preserved, but also a complete obedience to the men oovey, 1985, 23). They were also expected to creatures who could be co ntrolled, a role that Burney recognized and attempted to fulfill throughout the course of her life. ough late eighteenth century moralists described femininity as innate, they also insisted that feminine virtues needed maintaining proper behaviors because morali


Pennock 7 circulating library, are d evoured with indiscriminate and insatiable avidity. Hence Apparently excessive reading would lead to the complete and total destruction of civilization. Men, fearful that women with any power would behav e improperly, overcompensated by strangling women with rules a nd regulations. They assumed the women whose desires were not without fear as a man could, but as a wo man she could never be free from the fear of discovery. At the same time that men were prohibiting women from exploring potential literary careers, several female authors started working on conduct books, diaries, and novels reiterate the lesson that children especially daughters Sarah and Hannah More Strictures on the Education of Daughters all insist that, although parents owe consideration to 1985, 14). This type of literature was already quite common since women needed instructions on how to become proper ladies. Women novelists, therefore, had a legitimate outlet because they could give first hand advice to women who found these conduct boo ks to be a bit too oppressive. Their novels came to be about the struggles they faced in their own lives, and how to maintain a certain sense of decorum and still be accepted. Some of these women writers continued to stay proper and write solely on how to behave, but other women used this new gen


Pennock 8 As a young woman Burney wrote only journal entries and letters, because anything else was seen as improper for a woman of her stature. She went so far as to burn all of her juvenilia in a bonfire on her birthday in 1767, for fear of discovery. However, she could not keep herself her writing only served to give further emphasis to the struggle she had during her whole life. If Poovey had the opportunity to read Poovey provides evidence as to how Burney used her struggle as a woman and a writer; to comment upon how p through her writing This validated her writing as a female because she was instructing other women about the difference between acceptable and unacceptable manners of behavior. Evelin a can refer not simply to a position more precisely, hence to her lack of a determinate, protective social position); it can even refer to her immediate physical surroundings. When Evelina wanders lost through the dark footpaths of Vauxhall, every man who sees her assumes she is a prostitute; and conclude that she is one of their kind. (Poovey, 1985, 24) This passage shows a different way conduct can be shown in the novel form. By having Evelina describe both situations as uncomfortable and humiliating, it can be inferred that this behavior is unacceptable since Evelina follows a strict code of conduct Burney refers to standards of


Pennock 9 co nduct for young women, but places them in an engaging narrative. Poovey discusses several of offered similar commentaries. She even goes as far as to connect Samuel Clarissa to the general idea that not as a political unit, or as beings possessed of individual talents, capacities, or rights, but simply in Lo (Poovey, 1985, 27) Poovey here argues that men view the world differently than women: women saw themselves as people who maintained of decorum, while men saw women as simply a group, entions for her novels were honorable, when she recounts conversations in her journals with others about them, she becomes noticeably hesitant, begging them to stop making mention of them. Upon the discovery that she wrote Evelina many people sought her o it is afraid of her; -there is merit in Evelina which he could not have borne. No, it was not have done! unless, indeed, she would have flattered him prodigiously. Harry Fielding, too, would have been afraid of her, -there is nothing so delicately finished in all Works, as in Evelina; -nson] Head at [Frances Burney,] Character monger 2001, 97) All found her work to be a magnificent character study, but she blushed furiously with every proclamation that indicated she was the au


Pennock 10 years hence, when she can blush no more, -(Burney, 1994, 245). B published it anonymously in January of 1778. Even much later, after the publication of Camilla seriously rney, 2001, 214). She was bashful about Evelina because she knew that it was improper for a lady to write such a work. Johnson was not the only gentleman of the time who men also commended her and urged her to write mo re, even to expand into other types of writing, including plays. One of the major writers/critics of her time, Arthur Murphy, openly ----but a Book I have late ly read, -I would next gentleman, Thomas Sheirdan, who managed the Royal Theatre at Drury Lane, also declared that Comedy declarations s response to all such compliments, Burney noted her discomfort in her journals; that she wanted to stay undiscovered as a writer. Burney particularly struggled with her desi to write a play continued. A successful comedy would have been far more lucrative than a novel. should write for -with encomiums affirmed that it would be acceptable since she had such success with Evelina Regardless of the


Pennock 11 prompting she received for writing the play, shortly after its completion, she consulted her Outside her immediate family her most important epistolary confida nt would be Samuel Crisp, a friend of her Burney children (Burney, 2001, xiv) And Frances simply took their decision as final. She passionately wrote in a note to her father The fatal knell then, is knolled! and down among the Dead Men sink the poor Witlings, -for ever and for ever and for ever! (Burney, 2001, 127) She continues You my dearest Sir, who enjoyed, I really think, even more than myself the a stonishing success of my first attempt, would, I believe, even more than myself, be hurt at the failure of my second; -and I am sure I speak from the bottom of a very honest Heart when I most solemnly declare that upon your Account any disgrace would morti fy and afflict me more than upon my own, -for what ever appears with your approbation and perhaps with your assistance -and therefore, though all particular censure would fall where it ought upon me, -yet any general censure of the whole, and the Plan would cruelly, but certainly, involve you in its severity (Burney, 2001, 127) Once her fathers know about her writing, she will do nothing without their mutual consent. After Evelina writing might be thought inappropriate. Her constant concern over people discovering her to be the authoress led she could never publish again. The letter to her father continues with the declaration that f this I have been sensible from the moment my Authorshipness was discovered, -and therefore, from


Pennock 12 that moment, I determined to have no opinion of my own in regard to what I should thencefort h part with out (Burney, 2001, 127 128) She gave all writing choices to her fathers because that was only with their help that she could ever atte From the various letters that Mr. Crisp and Dr. Burney sent to Frances, it is difficult to ascertain their reasoning behind telling her not to produce. Mr. Crisp expounds in a letter to Frances sharing that he play has Wit enough, & enough but the Story & the incidents dont appear to me interesting enough to seize and keep hold of the Attention & eager expectations of the generality of Audiences This to me, is its Capital defect (Burney, 2003, 17) This blunt statement seems a contradiction of itself. All of the theater producers and managers had encouraged Burney with the idea that if her novel was such a success, so would any play that s he chose to produce. Her fathers disagreed with those men, and only one of eight plays would be produced (an unsuccessful tragedy). Dr. Burney, although fearful that the play would not be inter of the influential Mrs. Monatagu. (This theory is a bit controversial, however; because Mrs. Monatagu was the leader of the Blue Stockings, a group who promoted w omen and literacy, in its most basic of senses.) At this time Dr. Burney depended upon the patronage of wealthy music students The Witlings had the chance to offend, he told her not to produce s silent suppression, I entreated my father to call on Mr. attempts to remain the proper woman, quashed her dream of becoming a playwright and returned to novel


Pennock 13 Over the course of the next year, after the quashing of her play, she writes Cecilia to the course of the year to produ ce another novel. Crisp and Charles Burney apparently believed that since her first novel managed to convey the most respectable messages, the instructional qualities of the novel counteracted any risk of impropriety. Her fathers were also aware of the mon ey, Evelina and were eager to repeat that successful venture. Both fathers felt that Cecilia would be lucrative and avoid the risks of The Witlings They were correct because Cecilia mirrors Evelina in many ways, excepting the hero ine must overcome greater problems before reaching her happy ending. Burney continues to demonstrate through her novels the proper behavior for women, even though the writing of this novel almost cost her life. Burney honors male power, so when her fat hers declare that she will do something, she five years she spends serving the Queen, she does anything that is asked of her because not only is she fulfilling a duty to her sovereign, she is also obeying her father, who the Court position was a great honor and a financial boon. It is only once she becomes ill in service to the crown that she is finally allowed to step down from her duties. Her service was so well noted that upon leaving her service, the Queen granted upon Burney a living to help support herself, since Burney is still an unmarried woman. She publishes anonymously, and stays within the guidelines her fathers set for her.


Pennock 14 Chapter 2 made woman who, regardless of how she tries to h onor societies rules she manages to break them and pursue s a literary career. From the very beginning of her life, she struggles with her passion for writing. One day she notes in her journals that I have been having a long conversation wit h Miss Young on journals. She has very seriously and earnestly advised me to give mine up heigh ho! Do you think I can bring myself to oblige her? What she says has great weight with me; but, indeed, I should be very loath to quite give my poor friend up. She says it is the most dangerous employment young persons can have it makes them often record things which ought not to be recorded, but instantly forgot. I told her, that as my Journal was solely for my own perusal, nobody could in justice, or even in se nse, be angry or displeased at my writing any thing. is only for your perusal? Tha t very necessary for such a work. And if you dro p it, and any improper person finds it, She cannot stop herself, and when her father discovers one of her journals, in which she has revealed her true self, he reprimands her, telling her that she must keep those sorts of things hidden from sight because they are not acceptable for a woman of her stature. If she cannot give up her writing, then it must stay hidden from everyone. Her writing is not the only way that she


Pennock 15 breaks from the mold of a away According to Poovey, from the seventeenth century onward, women shifted their duties en actively participate in socially with these changes, many restrictions still were placed upon women, and it was towards the end of the nineteenth century when they began being known as angels of the house. Women still had many obstacles to overcome before they could stand as productive me mbers of society, and yet the women writers kept prevailing. They attempted to broke the mold. P oovey explores the distinction women had be tween propriety and e can downcast and lips pressed into a faint and silent smile. She is the Proper Lady, guardian and nemesis (Poovey, 1985, 47) W omen were at odds within themselves. They sought actively to be the ideal woman who men would seek, but by pursuing the knowledge to improve themselves, they became individuals instead. Women, as proper ladies, were both helping and hurting themselves. Th ey limited their potential, which hurt them, but at the same time protected themselves. Men had consistently sought ways to allow women more liberties benefits of family life and the priesthood of all believers, Puritans gave women an importance Protestantism did not and even introduced the possibility of complete religious equality for the


Pennock 16 al family organization a false freedom, so that men could control women easier, adding to the oppression. Wome n of this time, regardless of how men attempted to manipulate the s ituation, found ways to break free from the rules that held them. all kinds of writing by women of this period suggest that, even though women may not consciously have acknowledged their own impermissible desires, energies not sanctioned by propriety did exist. Although they celebrated their proper, feminine nature, women found ways to express the energies that were not satisfied or silenced by fulfilling the role of an altogether proper lady (Poovey, 1985, 15). Basically women found ways to escape the no rm and express themselves, without the approval of men; they tried to be proper, but often felt the need to go beyond what was considered appropriate. This confusing situation makes it all the more difficult to distinguish what role a woman had, which is w hy Burney is difficult to understand. It was a confusing time because although women were allowed outside the home for minor positions in social work, many men still claimed that marriage An uneducated woman could be controlled and manipulated, while a woman possessing the same literacy skil ls as her husband could be viewed as a threat because she could do the same tasks as


Pennock 17 required by a man. Men did not want women to be allowed into the public sphere because they were afraid that once women had any sort of power, they would have no control a nd thus lose their dominating role in society. Taken to its logical extreme, to write is to assume the initiative of creator, to imitate the Creator; and as Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have pointed out, it is to usurp the male instrument of power, the pha (Poovey, 1985, 36) And even though there were many men who felt that the pen was representative of their masculinity and thus women should prohibited from writing, women would only be contained for so long. Women had to realize the power in their own writing and create their own literature. As women began to explore the possibilities of a world outside the hearth and home, Poovey claims that at least three factors allowed women to join in the joys of writing and reading First, the rapid demise of literary patronage after 1740 meant that a woman could publish anonymously, without having either to solicit the interest of a patron (nearly all of whom would have been male) or (Poovey, 1985, 36 37) Second the rise of the Bluestockings, led by Mrs. Montagu, provided women with the knowledge that they could become something more and gave women a model for achievement. And third there was a general loosening of sentiments in regards to females and the status quo with the influx of new philosophical thinking. Roughly in the middle of the eighteenth century women started having more liberties because they either started working on achieving them, or they went behind the backs of men and did what t hey wanted to do in the first place. Women started becoming more self sufficient. They still did continue to have issues, but their novel writing opened up more possibilities than in the past. Women took up the challenge of balancing between a proper lady and a woman writer. Burney dealt with this conflict her entire life because her passion for writing subverted


Pennock 18 her Burney Not o as a young woman continued to write even after being told to keep her work hidden because it was inappropriate. Burney was controlled to an ex tent because her fathers had some influence on writing regardless of the controversy surrounding them. They were all passionate women who would not, could not, be com Apart from the controversy over her simply being a writer, Burney always tries to May 8 th 1775, and his In her observations Mr. Barlow is short but rather handsome, he is a very well bred, good tempered and sensible young man, and he is highly spoken of, both for Disposition and morals. He has Read more than he has Conversed, and seems to know but little of the World; his Language therefore is stiff and uncommon, and seems labored, if not affected he has a great desire to please, but no elegance of manners; neither, though he ma y be very worthy, is he at all agreeable. (Burney, 2001, 45) In spite of his more amiable qualities, even in this preliminary introduction Burney clearly has points to writing in the seventeenth century, informed a bride that


Pennock 19 A good wife should be like a Mirrour which hath no image of its own, but receives its stamp from the face that l ooks into it. A woman must not only obey to be regulated by him so far, that it should not be lawful for her to will or desire what she liked, but only what her husband shoul 1985, 3) could never Consent to unite myself to a man who I did not very 47). Unknowing of her stat e of mind, Mr. Barlow immediately began pursuing Burney through various letters and meetings where he openly declared his affection for her. And despite regular rebuffs, it took roughly a month before Burney dismissed him severely enough to drive him away. All she wants is a single life with her father, whi ch she ardently proclaims to him She (which she claims to deserve) to share her life. This entire exchange proves that she is beginning Burney began her literary career in secret. She did this because of the uncertainty that she oyment. In Evelina she prefaced her work three times, first by a poem praising her father, second by a letter excusing her poor prose, and third with a summary of what the reader could expect. It was clear with the transition from her joyous exclamation t o her father, to the self berating in the letter that she had reservations about publishing her novel. The introductory materials show that she is trying to be a proper lady, but at the same time her anonymity allows her to publish without the major confli cts that developed in her later works, after her exposure. The prefatory materials try to


Pennock 20 expunge her need for reprimand. being! 002, 3). She has a great deal of respect for her father, which is why she did not wish for her work to disrespect him. recommendation, and unknow n alike to success and disgrace (Burney, 2002, 5). She then asks, Inspector -perhaps for my sins the nameless author, hopes the reviewers will approve of her wor k and As she publishes her first work anonymously with the help of her brother, she makes her success that followed. Given how much she tried to dismiss her own writing, it Evelina brought, seemed to but once people discovered who wrote Evelin a it was hard for them to remain quiet. Theatre managers and producers began approaching her to produce a play, since they believed her skills to surpass those of Richardson himself. Responding to their wishes, she set about writing a play, which gave her considerable enjoyment. In comparison to some of her novels, her first play took only a fraction of time. She was inspired, and hopeful that a play could bring her considerable income. (Some may believe she started publishing her writing to offset her liv ing expenses, since she was an unmarried woman with no foreseeable prospects.) letter


Pennock 21 exchanges with her fathers, indicate that she is starting to feel the confinements, and does not care for them. In the very same letter in which she declares the play is dead, she also remarks sigh whether I will or not to their [ The Witlings ] memory, for, however, worthless, they were mes Enfans and up her right to produce it based on their sentiments towards the play, but she has started to develop a sense of self, a self who does not want to bend to every paternal command. By writing sigh, her story because they were hers. In this small statement, she shows a glimmer of the Burney shows her unhappiness about not producing her play in various other journals and th Act, upon your disap probation of it, but that I waited, and was by Mrs. Thrale so much encouraged to wait, for your finishing play regardless of the thoughts of her fathers. They w ere the only exception because everyone guidelines, but is not pleased. She notes to Mr. Crisp Well! -& there are plays that are to be saved, & plays that are not to be saved! so good Night Mr. Dabler! good Night Lady Smatter, -Mrs. Sapient, Mrs. Voluble, -Mrs. Wheedle Censon, -Cecilia Beaufort, -& you, you great Oaf Bobby! Good Night! Good Night! (Burney, 1994, 349) For Burney, after the censo rship of her play, everything becomes more complex. Multiple


Pennock 22 These problems about producing a play were not solely limited to the actual wr iting of hat writing a play was vastly more of a public venture than a novel. If her play was to fail, Burney would have been forever stigmatized and any further attempts to produce anything publically could have failed. Her fathers, having an outside view on the s ituation, advised her against the play and prompted her to return to fiction. Burney did write again, but it is noticeable in her second novel that Burney is wrought with turmoil. In Evelina it had been sufficient to punish herself for her desire to be Cecilia She published Evelina anonymously because she was uncertain about being a writer and she never desired discovery Once she was discovered, her fathers began censor ing her, which is why Cecilia is very different from Evelina She learned from an early age, most obviously noted when she burned her juvenilia, that being a female writer was unacceptable. She wanted to be proper, but she could not. She wrote to Crisp dec avoid this danger, though I see it, for I would a thousand Times rather forfeit my character as a Writer than risk ridicule or censure as a Female allow You to sacrifice a Grain of female delicacy, for all the Wit of Congreave & Vanburgh put together statements as she worked on The Witlings and they represent her inner turmoil. From this point onward in her life, Burney could not write without the fear social stigma. Part of this fear manifested itself in the form of physical maladies and a significant change in mood for her second novel. Additionally her journal entries and letters also changed in tone, often describing a


Pennock 23 severe depression perhaps brought on by her inability to fully express herself in her writings. Burney had a great opportunity presented to her with her play, a chance to be a socially accepted woman writer. Her fathers Her second novel was entitled Cecilia It took considerably longer to produce than her play, all the while causing Burney to suffer from physical ailments. As she noted, my illness has been very unlucky, -I believe, indeed, I over harass myself, & that, instead of making me write more, bothers & makes me write less, -yet I cannot help it, -for I know m y dear Father will be disappointed, & he will expect me to have just done when I am so behind hand as not even to see Land! Yet I have written a great deal, -but the Work will be a long one, & I cannot without ruining it make it otherwise. It will be impossible for me to stay here til it is finished, unless I am willing to half ruin Mr. Crisp, & quite give up the Winter for London. (Burney, 2003, 264) She does not mention her physical maladies often in her letters, as if she is trying to hide them from the public or more specifically from her fathers. She continuously gets more ill as she was ill; is the state of her hair, but what is important to note is that she firmly believed that she had been close to death. Although she affirmed in her notes to her femal e companions her true sentiments as to her illnesses, in letters to her dearest father Samuel Crisp she dismissed them. She shared with him that


Pennock 24 I have never been confined, either to Bed or Room, -but to the House I was for one Week. I have very little Fev er, but very much cough. Sir Richard Jebb thinks not so well of me as I think of myself, -few People, I suppose, do -& when he was here last Sunday, ordered me to be Blooded again, -a thing I mortally dislike. Asses milk, also he forbids, holding it too n ourishing & even Potatoes are too solid food for me! He has ordered m e to live wholly on Turnips with a very little dry B read, & what Fruit I like: but nothing else of any sort. (Burney, 2003, 485) This list of maladies indicate s that she is unwell, but she tries to counter these statements by Chesington upon my ten toes which suggests that she was hurting herself by not expanding her career as a writer. Being a In addition to the sickness that plagued her body, she also dreaded writing her novel. She began work on Cecilia the Spring of 1780, but it was not published until the summer of 1782. She had taken less than a year to write The Witlings but it took her almost two years to force out her second novel. Towards the end of writing, almost within a week of her finishing it, she wrote angry message around the 7 th of December in 1781, and she finished the manuscript around the 21 st So close to not finishing the book, her desire to throw it all into the flames represents the ire she felt for being forced into writing another novel, for having to be the the woman writer, but the best testament of her opposing sentiments are i n the novel, itself. Her


Pennock 25 feelings of confusion and conflict appear very powerfully in Cecilia even as they are absent in Evelina Both ladies begin in a similar fashion. As Burney introduces Evelina she also describes her background. a young female, e ducated in the most secluded retirement, makes, at the age of seventeen, her first appearance upon the great and busy stage of life; and with a virtuous mind, a cultivated understanding, and a feeling heart, her ignorance of the forms, and inexperience in 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 Worl d. (Burney, 2002, 9) Although it appears that Evelina, as a young woman, will not know all the correct behaviors, it still appears that Burney has taken it upon herself to care for this poor female, to assist her through the trials of life. As Evelina is introduced into society, she encounters many tasks and situations that test her purity. One of her first mistakes happens at a dance. She refuses the first gentleman, only to e simple code of already engaged by which I 42). This action, however, also causes problems. Me n question her statement, causing her to become more flustered and uncomfortable. Lord Orville steps in and, seeing her distress,


Pennock 26 (Burney, 2002, 49). Lord Orville is a blessing sent from Burney to help Evelina ease into society. On a level of which even she is not aware he understands her. Regardless of situation, Lord Orville is always there to help her out. These sticky situations continue throughout the course of Evelina with Lord Orville always serving as her hero. She is not always aware of how fortunate she is to be protected by such an honorable man. He notices when she is the least bit uncomfortable, and does everything in his power to assure her. Burney allows Evelina to be sheltered, just as she was sheltered while he r anonymity remained intact. For Burney, publishing Evelina is comparable to Evelina stepping out into society for the first time. Evelina was uncertain about her first forays, mirroring Burney and her timidity in writing and publishing Evelina Burney is saved from society and its judgments by publishing anonymously. Remaining unknown offered Burney the protection she needed, much the same protection Orville provided Evelina. Evelina proves through this uncomfortable situation that she is not the perfect woman, but rather she was created to be the perfect model. She does make some preliminary mistakes upon entering into society, but once she starts to learn the rules of society she surpasses them. Evelina grows into herself, going from the timid, uncertain girl to the etiquette queen at the end. Evelina even goes so far as to surpass the leading figures in her attitudes. Throughout the beginning sections of Evelina however, she remains constantly felt uncertain about her behavior. The first time she saw Lo rd Orville, after the ballroom incident, I felt a confusion unspeakable at again seeing him, from the recollection of the ridotto adventure: not did my situation lessen it, for I was seated between Madame Duval and Sir Clement, who seemed as little as mys elf to desire Lord breeding of Captain


Pennock 27 Mirvan and Madame Duval, made me blush that I belonged to them. And poor Mrs. Mirvan and her amiable daughter had still less reason to be satisfied. (Burney, 2002, 60) Evelina, at this point, has begun to learn the levels of character and society. She is aware that Lord Orville is in a class all by himself; therefore she feels confusion and embarrassment with him because she is aware she is unworthy. Simultane ously, she also acknowledges the wanton lack of propriety displayed by her party, feeling ashamed to be associated with them. Evelina, having barely stepped into society begins to grasp the natures very quickly, which prove to her advantage as her life pro gresses. sends him an apologetic note expressing her chagrin over the misuse of her name by her companions. She writes carriage in my name, and so greatly shocked at hearing how much it was injured, that I cannot forebear writing a few lines, to clear myself from the imputation of an impertinence which I blush to be suspec ted of, and to acquaint you, that the request of your carriage was made against my consent, and the visit which you were importuned this morning, without my knowledge. of so m uch trouble for your Lordship; but I beg you to believe, that reading these lines is the only part of it which I have given voluntarily.


Pennock 28 Evelina is addressing the misuse of her name, but also proving that she has learned the rules of the proper lady. She is disgraced by her companions who requested his carriage in her name without her permission. Evelina knows that she has no right to do that, but her associates lack the manners associ ated with their social rank. This letter proves that although Evelina has very little real social standing, her etiquette places her far above them. Evelina has become the essence of the proper lady. Nothing can touch her. A s Evelina has morphed from the unknowledgeable girl to the wiser woman, Burney has shown the reader a unique look into the ideal proper lady. As Evelina ends her letters, she tells her dear Rev. Villars, ALL is over, my dearest Sir, and the fate of your Evelina is decided! This morning with fearful joy, and trembling gratitude, she united herself forever with the object of her dearest, her eternal affection! I have time for no more; the chaise now waits which is to conduct me to dear Berry Hill, and to the arms of the best of men. (Bu rney, 2002, 406) She is confirming that she has received the prize for her behavior. From the very beginning of Evelina she was pure but uneducated. Now she has the knowledge to remain the perfect woman. It is interesting that Burney creates this ideal w writing, the singu lar flaw, keeps her from achieving this goal. The only way to reach this goal is through writing the part she wishes she could be, but will never fulfill.


Pennock 29 with Evelina could not last. Burney wanted to be the woman writer, but also the proper lady. For her, the discovery that she is an author brought problems. Once she was forced into a specific writing style, she was predestined to have issues Burney needed protection, but she lost it, her characters suffer anxieties and disorders simi lar to hers. Cecilia is very long novel, thr ough which Burney suffered as well as the characters. The plot line is very much the same as Evelina Burney even introduces it with much the same air, but also leaves the reader with a foreboding sense of doom. Her advertisement states THE indulgence shewn by the Public to EVELINA, which, unpatronized, unaided, and unowned, past through Four Editions in one Year, has encouraged its Author to risk this SECOND attempt. The animation of success is too universally ac knowledged, to make the writer of the following sheets dread much censure of temerity; though the precariousness of any power to give pleasure, suppresses all vanity of confidence, and sends CECILIA into the world with scarce more hope, though far more enc ouragement, than attended her highly honoured predecessor, EVELINA. (Burney, 2008, 3) This brief introduction mirrors ever so slightly her introduction to Evelina but the tone is different. She hints that her first novel was a great success, and this spar ked her to write again. Burney even acknowledges that many have encouraged her to write another novel, but that she is her anonymity, and although she boasts of her confidence, she really is fearful of what people will say of her. As her fathers commanded her to write another novel, and to censor her play, she started to second guess her talent. She wanted to stay the proper lady but, as she wrote her


Pennock 30 second no vel as a publicly acclaimed author, she started to doubt herself and thus her protagonists would start to suffer. At first glance, the reader can note that Cecilia is not in the epistolary format an important variation from Evelina This change gives the actions as well as to gather her intimate feelings. It gives the story a different depth. By using this point of view, Burney allows the reader to develop a relationship with the protagonist, at the same time keeping t hem at a distance. The reader watches Cecilia stumble through this pain, but never knows her true sufferings. Burney keeps some parts of Cecilia hidden, just like she keeps some of herself hidden. Also, Burney, by breaking with the epistolary mode her fat hers most likely anticipated gave herself one final chance at freedom. As indicated by her introduction, a nd by her signing the Burney is struggling with her authorship (Burney, 2008, 1). She is not ready to accept it, but is forced into it. Her writing, therefore, is her only outlet to show her distress. Burney never stated that she wrote Evelina keeping it, however thin her disguise, forever anonymous. All subsequent novels, like Cecilia she announced it as b THOR OF (Burney, 2008, 1). Camilla The Wanderer (Burney, 1983, 1 and Burney, 1991, 1) Never using her given name, Burney shows that she has problems accepting her authorship. She uses this manner of signing to continue being a proper lady. When Cecilia Camilla and The Wanderer were published, Burney was already well known as the author of Evelina She was a famous author, sought out by publishing houses. She used the funds gained from her writing to buy a house, and to begin her family, yet


Pennock 31 she can never fully accept what she has done because she holds subconsciously to traditional notions of prop riety. From the opening, Cecilia suggests that great problems are in store for its heroine. Evelina was fortunate enough to have a guardian who truly cared for her. Rev. Villars looked after her and made sure that she was always in the best of circumsta nces, or at the very least with people he assumed where respectable and capable of keeping her safe. Even under the most watchful eye that Evelina does stumble onto some problems throughout her life, but they are relatively mild, especially in comparison t to a rocky beginning. She is the only survivor of the Beverley family, her parents having died entirely by practically unknown guardians. A strong contrast Cecilia seems to have two blessings in her a name and a fortune to support herself upon coming of age, unlike Evelina. Burney, however, in giving these valuable assets also makes her prey to characters wi th bad intentions. person, had by the Dean been entrusted to three guardians, among whom her own choice was to tion (Burney, 2008, 6). In this part of the quote, these three men include the husband of a childhood friend, a money hording business manager and a statue, conscious gentleman. Cecilia, although seemingly having options with these gentlemen, is really bei ng boxed into a corner because they are each problematic in their own ways. Mr. Harrel, the husband of her childhood friend, is a spendthrift and a debtor. He has no real worth because he squandered it away with frivolous living. Mr. Briggs, the money hord ing business manager, is practically the opposite of Mr. Harrel because he refuses to spend any money because money alone is what satisfies him. He lives without any conveniences, and


Pennock 32 his household is a complete pigsty because he refuses to spend. Mr. Brig gs, however, is the ideal spending money for anything because he is convinced he can increase it for her. Mr. Delvile is the last gentleman left to guard Cecilia, and he refuses to see her. He is a snobby gentleman who will not work with Cecilia. Mr. Delvile might provide her a relatively safe environment, but his elitist lifestyle prevents it. Burney has backed her heroine into a corner, not unlike the corner her fath ers put her in when they demanded to write her second novel. Cecilia has options for her household until her coming of age, but none of them are truly acceptable for a woman of her character. Burney continuously boxes Cecilia in throughout her narrative. S Burney gives l per annum; with no other restriction than tha t of annexing her name, if she married, to the 6). Cecilia, upon coming of age, should have everything she requires to start a successful life, so long as she can sustain herself until then. The first m ajor problem arises when Mr. Harrel cons Cecilia into assisting him with his never repay his debt to her. Prior to her twenty first birthday s he gives the 10,00 0 pounds to the Jew ish money lender did when they told her the play was unsuitable. Burney does seem to try to make amends for harming Cecilia; s he tries to forgive her fathers for putting her into this position, but every time she tries to help Cecilia or fix one of


Pennock 33 s a prime example of Burney trying to assist Cecilia, but ultimately causing more grief for her heroine. Mr. Monckton is hopelessly in love with Cecilia, but as he already married to gain wealth, he is unable to actively pursue her. He, instead, tries to h elp her out excessively, so, when his infirm wife dies, Cecilia should leap into his willing arms. Mr. Monckton helps Cecilia pay off the Jew ish money lender help her. She met the punctual Mr. Monckton, and the disappointed Jew, who most unwillingly was paid off, and relinquished his bonds; and who found in the severe and crafty Mr. Monckton, another sort of man to deal with than the necessitous and heedless Mr. Harrel. As soon as he was dismissed, other bonds were drawn and signed, the old ones were destroyed; and Cecilia, to her infinite satisfaction, had no other creditor but Mr. Monckton. Her bookseller, indeed, was still unpaid, but her debt with him was public, and gav e her not any uneasiness. (Burney, 2008, 439) As this passage shows, Mr. Monckton does help Cecilia out of a very large problem, and creates a gateway for himself. If he were to marry Cecilia, they could mutually dissolve the bonds and she could be free of the debt Mr. Harrel brought upon her unsuspecting person. The reader, potential door for Cecilia, the reader is aware his horrible behavior can never be rewarde d with mutual suffering continues.


Pennock 34 Burney intentionally wounds Cecilia, when her true poverty is revealed. The love of he impression her fortune is still intact, so in his declaration of love he accidently embarrasses her. He begins yours is not permitted to give up his name, give up yourself t he fortune of your late uncle? consent to such settlements as I can make upon you from my own? part with so splendid an income wholly and forever? and with only your paternal 10,000 l. condescend to become mine, as if your uncle had never existed, and you h 804) Unknowingly he is asking Cecilia to give up quite a bit of her existence, as she currently uses her Londo n. He is asking her to give everything up for him, which is almost too much for her to This, indeed, was a stroke to Cecilia unequalled by any she had met, and more cruel than any she could have in re serve. At the proposal of parting with her misery, her heart, disinterested, and wholly careless of money, was prompt to accede to the condition; but at the mention of her paternal fortune, that fortune, of which, now, not the smallest vestige remained, horror seized all her facilities! she turned pale, she trembled, she involuntarily drew back her hand, and betrayed, by speechless agitation the sudden agonies of her soul! ( Burney, 2008, 804)


Pennock 35 novels appear to be these wonderful stories interconnectedness appears. Burney shows how much her life influenced her writing through the deadly illness that plagues Cecilia towards the end of her story. At first Cecilia is a raving lunatic, continuing to Mortimer ] is yet to be saved, if already he is not murdered, -go to him! fly after him! you will presently overtake him, he is only in the next street, I left him there myself, his sword draw n, and covered with human blood In reality, Delvile never was in any true danger. Delvile had only gone off without her, not knowing she would seek him out and assume the worst if she did not immediately find him. In her preoccupied state, her mind creates a false reality which takes her deeper into a sickness. Burney is like Cecilia because the farther Burney got with Cecilia the more ill Burney and Cecilia became. Th roughout writing Cecilia Burney suffered, and made note of it continuously: I go on but indifferently, -high success of Evelina, which, as Mr. Crisp says, to fail in a 2 d would tarnish -these thou ghts worry & depress me, -& a desire to do more than I have been able, by writing at unseasonable Hours, & never letting my Brains rest even when my Corporeal Machine was succumbent -these things, joined to a Cold, have brought on a Fever of which I fear shall some Time feel the ill effects in weakness & an horrid tendency to an Head ache, which disables me from all employment. (Burney, 2003, 266 267)


Pennock 36 This passage indicates that Burney was writing solely at the pleasure and will of her fathers, and the wri ting was arduous. No such passages appear during the writing of Evelina which implies Burney was in good health and thus did not punish her protagonist. The character Cecilia is another way to prove that Burney was in a different state of mind. Througho ut the beginning of Evelina the protagonist was obsessed with learning the right way to behave in London society, having been sheltered her entire existence. Cecilia, with the exception of the money lending scenes as well as the two secret marriage scenes seems to be completely unconcerned with how she appears to the rest of the world. When she attends a direction she was guided, informed her it was not necessary (Burney, 2008, 106). She is unmasked to show that she is not false like the other people in the building. They all walk around parading as Dominos of no character, and fancy dresses of no meaning, made, as is usual at suc h meetings, the general herd of the company: for the rest, the men were Spaniards, chimney sweepers, Turks, watchmen, conjurers, and old women; and the ladies, shepherdesses, orange girls, C ircassians, gipseys, haymakers, and sultanas. (Burney, 2008, 106 1 08) by making her a not as simple as Evelina. ty through all the trying situations, the money lending scenes in particular. Those passages reveal a woman much more accustomed to taking care of oneself, much


Pennock 37 references the make her more her fathers try to manipulate her, the more she wants to break away. After Cecil ia serve the Queen. Her father demanded she take on this new duty, which she did, almost in a last While Burney was in service to the Queen, a nd had limited outlets to express her feelings, her letters offer the most prominent insight into her feelings. Throughout her time in court, she lamented to her friends continuously My loss of Health was now so notorious, that no part of the House could wholly avoid acknowledging it. Yet was the terrible picquet the catastrophe of every Evening! though frequent pains in my side forced me 3 or 4 times in a Game to creep to my own Room for Hartshorn and for rest. And so weak and faint I was become, that I was compelled to put my Head out into the air, at all Hours, and in all weathers, from time to time, to recover the power of breathing, which seemed not seldom almost withdrawn. (Burney, 2001, 308) Her illness is a manifestation that she does not agree wi th her father about her serving the royal court. Burney expressed her unhappiness with the situation by writing three tragedies over years she was at court. She also conveyed obvious relief once she was finally released from court. She states Rejoiced, relieved as I felt, that my long struggles now ended, I yet had much personal regret in quitting my Royal Mistress though not my place (Burney, 2001, 327) Burney, by leaving court, begins to show that she is breaking with traditions. If she had done as her father had desired, she would have remained permanently in court to forever stay as the


Pennock 38 ture husband, and a secret courtship follows. Even at the beginning of their friendship, she praises him as the opposite of Mr. Barlow. have been formed. He has a sincerity, a f rankness, an ingenious openness of nature that I had been injust enough to think could not belong to a French Man. With all this, which is his Military portion he is passionately fond of literature, a most delicate critic in his own language, well versed in both Italian and German, and a very elegant Poet. He has just undertaken to become my French Master for pronunciation, and he gives me long daily lessons in reading. Pray expect wonderful improvements! In return I hear him in English, -and for his them e this Evening, he has been writing an English address Mr. Burney (i.e. M. le precious morsel of elegant broken English, and I must keep it amongst my treasures: but I wil l produce it when I return, for your entertainment. (Burney, 2001, 359) French Master, y using French Master marriage, and finding a man who needed her was the opp ortunity of a lifetime. Burney depicts her future husband as her ideal man, but the notation that he is involved with the French military, immediately implies that if the revolution goes poorly then he may be a


Pennock 39 hunted man. She seeks him and his companion ship because she knows that she will be the dominant person in the relationship. Burney desires their relationship because it provides her the companion with whom she c an discuss literature and the arts. Mr. Barlow would never have was never a restrictive husband because he needed the pension that the Queen provided her as well as a ny additional money she earned through her novels. He gave her the freedom to do what she always wanted to do, write without masculine dominance. Burney was fortunate that her ke the transition her husband. She becomes, in a sense, a sort of son. Regardless of how acceptable it might have appeared to her, she was the sole provider for her family, placi ng her in the typical masculine role her husband should have held. Burney, by her marriage, allows herself a freedom that she does not give her protagonists. She actually punished them (Cecilia, Camilla, and Juliet) for seeking out companionate marriage s. In a sense, Burney foreshadowed herself in all of their difficulties. Cecilia, in particular, went through her own personal hell before she was allowed to be with the love of her life. Burney with her inner conflict, as well as the problems that arose b ecause she followed her the chance for a companionate marriage, she cannot stop herself from pursuing her desires. By


Pennock 40 breaking with her fathers and marrying a man who will allow her freedom to write, she is


Pennock 41 Conclusion Burney showcases the conflict that dominated the lives of women writers in the 18 th Auste n, Burney was one of the first women writers who struggled and fought for her right as an author. Burney is a constant contradiction. She relentlessly pursues h er writing, testing out many styles and genres, all the while maintaining a strict rule on herself. If her fathers declared her play unsuitable to be produced, she submitted to them. She wrote many plays, which only appeared centuries later. Her extensive collection shows she was continually experimenting with constantly worrying about her propriety. She is unique and shows a differe The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer was published; they more clearly depict the side of the woman writer. Burney is more complex, having facets to her personality that deepen the conflict that existed in many of the women of the time. Many women may have had the passion for writing, but lacked the ingenuity and drive to become authors. Burney is a contradiction because, while she wrote passionately, she denied her writing with almost every breath.


Pennock 42 Bibliography Burney, Frances. Camilla, or A Picture of Youth. Ed. Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom. Burney, Frances. Cecilia Burney, Frances. The Early Journals and Letters of Frances Burney, Volume III, The Streathan Years, Part I, 1778 1779. Ed. Lars E. Troide and Stew art J. Cooke. Montreal & Kingston: McGill Queen's University Press, 1 994 Burney, Frances. The Early Journals and Letters of Franc es Burney, Volume IV, The Streathan Years, Part III, 1780 1781. Ed Betty Rizzo. Montreal & Kingston: McGill Queen's Univers ity Press, 2003 Burney, Frances. Evelina. Burney, Frances. Journals and Letters. London: Penguin Books, 2001. Burney, Frances. Courtship and Marriage 1793, Letters 40 121. Ed Joyce Hemlow and Althea Douglas. London: Oxford at the Claredon Press 1972 Burney, Frances. The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties. Ed. Margaret Anne Dooby, Robert L. Mack and Peter Sabor. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. The Burney Journal Ed. Victoria Kortes Papp and Stewart Cooke Vol 8. 2005 : 34 45. Poovey, Mary. The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985.