Adeline Mowbray: An Analysis

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The end of the eighteenth - beginning of the nineteenth century England was characterized by the downfall of the revolutionary “Jacobin” movement which advocated for freedom and equality, and symbolizes a return to, as well as an empowerment of the conservative British patriarchal system. This was the context in which Amelia Anderson Opie wrote “her most political novel”(King and Pierce, viii) Adeline Mowbray, a tale which provides a case study about, as Roxane Eberle notes, “progressive ideas that heterosexual relationships can and should exist outside of marriage”(1994: 127). As a result the clash between these innovational type of relationships and the English legal and social norms collide in their representation of models of proper conduct…show more content…
In her essay Adeline Mowbray: Diverting the Libertine Gaze Roxanne Eberle also confirms that the novel is inspired on Wollstonecraft and Godwin’s relationship, but she goes a little further and suggests that more than a replica of the two “Jacobin” philosophers ‘lives the novel is a counteraction to Godwin’s Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. As an early admirer of Mary Wollstonecraft Opie could not accept the abhorrent position in which the Memoirs had placed her, so she wrote a novel that “examines the confusion which ensues when a women’s philosophical beliefs conflict with society’s notion about female sexuality”(1994: 123), and how that transgressive women is converted into a sexual object by a conservative society. For Patricia Mathew, more than a critique to Godwin’s concepts, the novel exhibits the impracticalities of those theories when applied to women in the late eighteenth century. Her analysis unfolds around the idea that Adeline Mowbray “takes its central theme from Wollstonecraft’s experiment in marriage with Godwin”(2007: 390) and arguments that Opie sets the basis for her fiction by using Wollstonecraft’s…show more content…
As a matter of fact most frequently critics have looked at how prejudicial her mother’s philosophies have been for our character, and attributed to Editha Mowbray the “fallness” of her daughter. In her essay “The return of the prodigal daughter” Joanne Tong contemplates how “Mrs. Mowbray pays too little rather than too much attention to her daughter” (2004: 475) the outcome of which is a misunderstanding of her position in society with regards to the strict laws of etiquette and feminine ideology in eighteenth century England. Cecily E. Hill also blames Editha for Adeline and Glenmurray’s extramarital affair and their inevitable moral condemnation, and instead of accusing the lovers she sees Editha as the soul villain of the novel. Contrary to the typical concept of a mother who provides a safe education to Adeline, she experiments with dubious theories that ultimately foreground her daughter’s tragic
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