One of the defining characteristics of 18th-century England was the contrast between the city and the country. The people who lived in the city were as partial and loyal to their own environment as the people who were brought up in the countryside, and the two groups developed opinions about each other that were often based on bias and misunderstanding. Frances Burney’s novel Evelina presents a comparison of city life and country life from the point of view of city and country dwellers, showing how the country and the city were viewed differently by residents of both places.
In Evelina, the inhabitants of the countryside appreciate the calm and peaceful lifestyle they enjoy there. Whenever the characters of Burney’s novel find…show more content…
However, just as city residents view the country as boring and simple, country dwellers tend to see London as a city of sin and evil. In Evelina, the Reverend Mr. Villars is the most outspoken against city living. He tells Evelina that he “ever dreaded [her] being too much pleased with a life of dissipation,” implying that he believes that a dissipated life is the only sort that exists in the city (97). He recommends to Lady Howard that Evelina be allowed to return to her life in the
countryside because “this young creature’s chance of happiness seems less doubtful in retirement, than it would be in the . . . dissipated world” (106). As a country dweller, Mr. Villars’ perception of the city is limited to its worst qualities, and as a result he sees the city as a dangerous, awful place.
Throughout Frances Burney’s novel Evelina, the author presents views of the city and the countryside held by residents of both places. The city, with all its operas and private balls, contains all the sin and evil that Mr. Villars expects of it, but it offers entertainment and opportunity that cannot be found elsewhere. Similarly, the country’s simplicity and honor are sometimes accompanied by crudeness and foolishness, but it continues to embody the ideal of tranquility and peace. The two environments are actually equal in good and bad qualities, and only their own inhabitants, whose