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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 465

The bachelor Sir Roger, chief narrator of the Spectator, is depicted as a man of compassion and allowed to become a spokesman for humane values. As we know from contemporaries such as Jonathan Swift, humane considerations were not always foremost in early eighteenth-century England. Sir Roger, however, ever shows his compassion, for example, in essay 116, when, after going on a hunt, he frees the rabbit.

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One of the most famous and influential Spectator essays is number 11, which tells the story of Inkle and Yarico, and in one fell swoop, strikes a blow against both sexism and racism.

In this story, Sir Roger visits Arietta, a woman he has been introduced to by the socialite Will Honeycomb. Here, Steele uses a frame narrative to introduce his story within a story of Inkle and Yarico.

In the frame story, Arietta is outraged when a male guest puts down women as inconstant. She provides a story of her own. In this story, a group of English stopping for provisions in the Americas as they voyage to the West Indies unwisely go too far inland, and most are murdered by a band of Indians. However, Thomas Inkle is rescued by the "Indian maid" Yarico, who hides him a cave and brings him food. The two fall in love, and eventually Inkle is able to persuade the now pregnant Yarico to run away with him, promising to marry her in England. When they arrive in Barbados, however, Inkle sells her into slavery. She tries to stop him by telling him she is pregnant, but that only inspires him to raise his price.

This essay is comparable to Swift's "A Modest Proposal" in its condemnation of placing material gain over human welfare. Inkle, we learn early on, has had:


(The entire section contains 465 words.)

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