The Filial Relationship and Evelina College

Franny Burney’s Evelina concerns itself with many issues, and it seems most scholars look to focus on its elements of feminism and societal criticism. However, the issues surrounding familial relationships and bloodlines are apparent throughout the entirety of the novel. Additionally, the novel’s epistolary form creates certain restrictions for the complexity of familial issues and relationships. In the beginning of the novel, we learn that Evelina is essentially an orphan, and that the closest thing she has to a parent is Mr. Villars. It becomes clear that Mr. Villars acts as a great father figure to Evelina through her many trials and tribulations. He is always level headed, and his fondness of the young girl seems obvious. We also begin to find out that Evelina’s biological family situation is particularly messy. Her mother died during childbirth, her father, Sir John Belmont, would not accept her as his legitimate child, and her English grandmother is living somewhere in France with her lover, pretending to be French. Fortunately for Evelina, this only becomes an issue once she enters into high society and questions of her lineage are brought into the light. On top of this, her grandmother coincidentally enters the picture...

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