The Damsel of Brittany

Mary Robinson's Angelina, Tyranny and the 1790s

Stephanie Russo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The Romantic novelist Mary Robinson had a life-long sentimental attachment to Marie Antoinette, transforming her into a persecuted heroine whose story paralleled Robinson's own. What has been overlooked in the critical literature is her similar engagement with the obscure Angevin princess, Eleanor of Brittany, in her third novel Angelina (1796). The inset history of Eleanor functions as a thematic parallel to the romantic travails of Sophia Clarendon, who struggles to avoid a forced marriage. Eleanor also functions as a means by which Robinson can think through ideas relating to tyranny and the need for liberal reform. Eleanor, a long-term prisoner of King John, becomes the muse through which Robinson invites the reader to contemplate a rejuvenated social order in which merit is valued above arbitrary privilege. Robinson posits the possibility of a meritorious aristocracy, built in the image of the reforming barons who compelled John to sign the Magna Carta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-411
Number of pages15
JournalEnglish Studies
Volume97
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2016

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