Evelina Character Analysis

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Society Through the Characters in Evelina
Evelina is a novel written by Fanny Burney. The novel, written in the epistolary format, tells the story of Evelina, a young girl, being thrust into London society after living in a very small town with Mr. Villars, who took her in. When Evelina is thrust into this foreign society she immediately makes multiple faux pas that form as a background for much of the novel’s plot. In fact, societal views as a whole are a major theme of this novel. This novel looks at not only society as a whole, but the way different people act in this society, whether that be in a negatively or positively. Evelina also does this through the use of different characters throughout the novel who represent different types of
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He is proper, polite, kind, and good hearted, and he stays as a constant throughout the novel in terms of how he acts. There is not a point when he does not act the part of a gentleman in this novel. There is no major character change or anything of the sort, instead he stays as an example of how men of that time would have been expected to act and it gets him the love and support of not only Evelina, but one could argue the author Fanny Burney herself. Lord Orville does not simply act the part of the gentleman like many other characters in the book, but instead is the true character of the gentleman in this book. Burney writes, “…he acted with a regard to real honour that will always incline me to think well of him,” (107). These words written by Mr. Villars to Evelina are the ultimate acceptance of him in this novel. Since Mr. Villars is the guiding light for Evelina and her life his approval of Lord Orville lets the reader know not only how important of a character he is, but also how good he is in terms of society at that time. One reading the novel knows that Mr. Villars would not approve of a gentleman who did not act as he ought, so his approval lets the reader know society would also approve of…show more content…
The rules and style of London are something completely foreign to her and she ends up making many mistakes in terms of the rules at the beginning of her stay. However, unlike Madame Duval she learns from these mistakes and starts to learn how to avoid them. Evelina is caught in the middle of what society wants from women of this time period. She is naïve in many ways so she naturally ends up making mistakes. Burney writes, “Unused to the situations in which I find myself, and embarrassed by the slightest difficulties I seldom, till too late, discover how I ought to act,” (293). This shows how even towards the end of the novel Evelina was still unsure of not only how to act in society but also her place in society. This naivety does not make Evelina act in unpolite manners though, and she learns how she is supposed to act as the novel
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