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The Female Narrator In Humphry Clinker

Decent Essays
The novel Humphry Clinker is written almost exclusively through one sided letters of correspondence. A majority of the letters presented in this novel are written by the two male narrators of the story, leaving the rest of the space for the female narrators. While the male narrators of Jery Melford and Matthew Bramble are used to offer most of the detail to the novel, the female narrators help to offer portions of substance. The narrators of Tabitha Bramble, Lydia Melford, and Winifred Jenkins are used to offer a deeper analysis and differing perspective of the events that take place, in turn displaying the essence of the story. Each of the narrators have their own individual purpose in the story. When the novel begins, Tabitha Bramble’s letter…show more content…
She is described as Tabitha’s “lady” by Lydia, meaning that she is her maid. Like Tabitha, Win’s letters consist of many instances of misspellings. One example of this is, “…I met with an axident. I dropt my petticoat, and could not get it up from the bottom” (51). Though, while Tabitha’s misspellings are malapropisms, Win’s are mainly due to her lower class background. Being that Win is not related to the family throughout the journey, she helps to offer an outside perspective on their lives. In a letter to her friend Mary from London, Win says “the whole family have been in such a constipation! ─ Mr Clinker has been in trouble, but the gates of hell have not be able to prevail again him” (173) when speaking of how Humphry Clinker was arrested for a crime he did not commit. Win tells of how the family reacted to the news but not her opinion on the matter, at least not directly. This action emphasizes Winifred’s role as a servant to the family. The Bramble/Melford family is the most important because she is in service to them, so she makes an effort to mention their happenings in her letters along with some of her own. Win honors Tabitha to the point where she is constantly defending her and trying to make her look better, just as Tabitha does for herself. When speaking of how Tabitha goes after Lismahago, Win calls Tabitha “a gentlewoman of years and discretion” (341). Win is basically saying that Tabitha…show more content…
Lydia often says things that speak about her sex and how she sees them to act. One instance where Lydia does this is when she says “I have seen enough to believe, that our sex in general make it their business to ensnare others” (289). Not only is Lydia basically saying that all women are nosy busybodies, but that they use that quality to catch others whether it be in a lie or in marriage. The fact that Lydia says things like this is interesting because while her character is saying it, Smollett is the one writing it. With this single line he makes women out to be sneaky and conniving creatures, and through this, wholly disrespectable. Now, Lydia isn’t portrayed to be this way, so it brings up not only the question of class but the question of education as being a factor. Lydia is a high classed woman with an education, so she is made to be better than Tabitha who is of the same class, however with less education. Therefore, it implies that class isn’t a factor in how women act, but their amount of education. Something else Smollett expresses is that women are not strong willed and easy to sway. After Humphry apologizes in nicer clothing for accidentally exposing his bare bottom to Tabitha, Jery observes “this compliment and humiliation had some effect upon Tabby” (97). Tabitha is so easily swayed by a man of good appearance that she is made out to be simple minded. In the end of the
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