Subtitle: or, the East India Uncle.
Dora is too virtuous to really do anything, even when repeatedly and obviously wronged; so most of the interest in the book comes from the villainess. Unfortunately for us, the villainess isn't very effective, and indeed could hardly have squashed anyone stronger than Dora.
In two senses I wrong Dora in saying that she doesn't 'do anything' - she works like a drayhorse and studies like a young Lincoln and is kind to everyone around her. It would, from inside, be a very tiring life. Yet all her virtue never directly moves the story, though everyone who wrongs or helps her is moved by her virtue. In another sense, Dora isn't stupid, and something has to have been going on in her psyche to make her so obedient in such circumstances - I find it very unlikely that she couldn't have known how her cousin was wronging her; a novel of soliloquy might have told us that she wouldn't know the painful truth. But, still, not the novel actually here.
There's something particularly American-seeming about the plot's resolution. When the villainess is found out, the virtuous scheme to make her humiliation most complete.They don't write to tell her 'All is discovered', or go to meet her in the armor of righteousness. Instead they lead her on to make more of a petty fool of herself. One of them even travels and introduces himself to her incognito, to give her more rope. It doesn't seem gentlemanly to me. It's not that she deserved better treatment, but that they shouldn't have delighted in tormenting anyone.
Project Gutenberg EBook #6352So wrote clew in Fiction (19th c.). | TrackBack