Wieland

Charles Brockden Brown's Clara, an Archetype of the Classic Eighteenth-Century Woman

Although Leslie A. Fiedler calls Charles Brockden Brown the "inventor of the American writer," and sees the revolt of the European middle classes translating in America to "feminism and anti-intellectualism," Brockden Brown seems to have a problem imbuing Clara, his narrator in Wieland, with these same qualities (145). From the one-line reference [in the Advertisement] to the book's narration by "the lady whose story it contains," to the final explanation of that narrator's marriage to a man who placed her in an untenable (and life threatening) situation with his erroneous and unspeakable accusations, Charles Brockden Brown has created, in the character of Clara, an accurate representation of the predicament of the typical eighteenth-century American woman.

Despite the fact that Clara is allowed (by her brother) to live alone in her own cottage, called Mettingen, because of her desire to "administer a fund and regulate a household" of her own, it is a superficial independence at best. She is independently wealthy, through the inheritance left by her father, who gained his riches from the toil of slaves. Her residence is a scant three-quarters of a mile from her brother's home...

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