Evelina in Modern Day America

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Evelina in Modern Day America Evelina was written a very long time ago and the main character was written to fit in with that time, 1778. When we read such literature, set so long ago, it is difficult to put ourselves into that day and understand what is going on. Many times readers have difficulty imagining that such actions would really take place, because we are thinking that the story we are reading is taking place in our day and age. I will explain the way in which many of the main, important events that take place in this story, in 1778, would have happened in America in 2008. When Evelina goes to London, she is extremely naïve and steps out of her sheltered life for the first time. She commits her first embarrassing act when she refuses to dance with Sir Clement Willoughby but then accepts the offer of Lord Orville. In 1778, you do not refuse the hand of a gentleman who asks you to dance. No matter how uninterested the girl is, she consents to the dance. Evelina does not know the rules and is dumbfounded when she is confronted by Clement as she is dancing with Orville. …“May I know to what accident I mush attribute not having the honour of your hand?” “Accident, Sir!” repeated I, much astonished. “Yes, accident, Madam – for surely…it ought to be no common one – that should tempt a lady – so young a one too, - to be guilty of ill-manners” (27). A reader of our time would agree with Evelina and argue that, while it might be polite of the girl to dance with the gentleman who seeks her, it is not required that she do so. If the girl does dance with the man, however, it might be seen as leading him on and giving him false hope of a relationship, or whatever he intended to achieve with the dance, which is more disrespectful and embarrassing than declining the invitation in the first place. The second thing that happens in Evelina that might seem
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