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Written by Timothy Sexton
Amelia has been termed a “domestic novel” which would today translate into “chick lit.” Also belonging to the genre of sentimental novels, this means that it is more concerned with romance and all the aspects which spike from that spoke such as, for example, traditional masculine rejection of the positivity of marriage and its status as a dead end:
“Domestic happiness is the end of almost all our pursuits, and the common reward of all our pains.”
Necessity Is the Mother of Desire
Domesticity aside, one of the characters makes a metaphorical observation that can right applied to just about any other aspect of daily life. Consider it a philosophical mandate which rejects wholesale the very concept of a simple desire being an essential requirement:
“As to necessity, it is the plea of so many that it is impossible to serve them all.”
About That Dish Known as Revenge
What would any story about domestic relations be without the mixture of ingredients whipped together to become that cold dish known as revenge? Soap operas—the late 20th century version of this type of novel—would have collapsed as a form of entertainment almost immediately if vengeance had been censored. Somewhat appropriate to the topic of soap operas, then, is that it is a doctor who delivers almost a lecture on the pitfalls of seeking revenge, noting that:
“However pleasant it may be to the palate while we are feeding on it, it is sure to leave a bitter relish behind it and so far, indeed, it may be called a luscious morsel, that the most greedy appetites are soon glutted, and the most eager longing for it is soon turned into loathing and repentance.”
In fact, plenty of philosophizing goes on in the novel, but though it be “domestic” in nature, this should not be surprising. Its “chick lit” status is in reality to be confirmed only in those sections which forward the apparently revolutionary proposal that feminine education is kin to a contagion. The title character expresses outrage at the very specific concept that education should be confined to higher “the better sort in general.” What might perhaps stimulate such outrage by the young woman is that this prejudicial formulation of the need to limit educational opportunities is delivered by…Mrs. Bennett.
“How monstrous then,” cries Amelia, “is the opinion of those who consider our matching ourselves the least below us in degree as a kind of contamination!”
The ancient Roman poet Virgil plays a significant role in the structure and themes of the novel. As a result, he gets quoted often, especially as it applies to the nature of the feminine.
“Woman is a various and changeable animal”
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