Analysis Of Frances Burney 's ' The Perfect Definition Of A Lady '

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Frances Burney was born in a time where women were treated differently from men and expected to marry as soon as possible. Evelina, a book published in 1778, portrays a character with the same name who experiences stages in her life before finally becoming a lady in personality and title. In Evelina, Burney presents the treatment of different women within a male dominated society.

The ideal woman was often presented as a delicate object that depended on a man. In the novel, the perfect definition of a lady by the standards of that time is none other than Lord Orville’s younger sister Lady Louisa. When Lady Louisa is seen at Mrs. Beaumont’s home, Evelina notices that she is “wobbling rather walking into a room” and that her voice “[spoke] so softly she could hardly be heard”. This demonstrates her extreme femininity for being very weak and fragile to the point that she is quickly “fatigued to death” (410). Moreover, another example was Mrs. Mirvan in the first volume who was a “kind and sweet-tempered woman” (132). Like a true lady of that time, she was highly dependent on a man and so she was often charged to “healing those wounds which her husband’s inflicts” (150). Yet, Lady Louisa still remains as the main example of a real lady due to her behavior. She was easily tired, enjoyed having the attention on her and associated herself solely with those who were of her class. Sir Clement Willoughby also presents his own impression of her Ladyship: “she is a mere compound of

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