Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Abandoned by her father and her maternal grandmother upon the death of her mother, Evelina is for many years the ward of the Reverend Mr. Arthur Villars, an English clergyman. At last, her grandmother, Madame Duval, writes from France to say that she will take charge of Evelina, providing proper proof of the child’s relationship is forthcoming. Mr. Villars, however, refuses to send Evelina to France. He also objects to the invitation of Mrs. Mirvan, who wants Evelina to join her family in London. He thinks that Evelina, brought up carefully at Berry Hill in Dorsetshire, should not be exposed to London society life, particularly so since her own father, Sir John Belmont, will not admit his parentage and she is without enough income to permit her to live as the Mirvans do.
After some urging, he finally allows Evelina to visit Lady Howard, Mrs. Mirvan’s mother, at Howard Grove. A short time later, Mrs. Mirvan and her daughter, who are delighted with Evelina, secure permission to have her accompany them to London.
Almost at once, she is swept into fashionable London life. Having grown up in the provinces, Evalina finds the city is a constant joy. She soon meets Lord Orville, and they are attracted to each other. On several occasions, her lack of London manners causes her embarrassment, and she expresses a desire to return to Dorsetshire. Sir Clement Willoughby is her chief tormentor.
By chance, she meets her odious grandmother, the...
(The entire section is 1148 words.)
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Letter I–Letter IX
Fanny Burney’s story Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World opens with a letter from Lady Howard to the Reverend Arthur Villars in which she complains about the rudeness of Madame Duvall. Lady Howard then continues the letter inviting Evelina to stay at Howard Grove for a brief period of time. The reverend agrees to send Evelina to Lady Howard so she can enjoy the company of Maria Mirvan, Lady Howard’s granddaughter and a childhood friend of Evelina’s. Shortly after Evelina arrives, Lady Howard sends another note to the reverend asking his permission to allow Evelina to accompany Maria and her mother to London to await the arrival of Captain Mirvan, Maria’s father, who is returning from sea duty. The reverend agrees and Mrs. Mirvan, Maria, and Evelina set off for London.
Letter X–Letter XXIII
During their stay in London, Mrs. Mirvan decides to take the two young girls to a ball. At the ball, Evelina dances with Lord Orville. This is the first ball that Evelina ever attended, and she makes many social errors, including insulting a man with whom she refuses to dance and becoming somewhat dumbfounded by the presence of Lord Orville. Maria overhears Lord Orville describe Evelina as “a poor weak girl!” However, when the man with whom she refused to dance refers to Evelina as being ill bred, Lord Orville comes to her defense and states “that...
(The entire section is 1871 words.)