Who Is Maria Edgeworth's Ennui '?

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Maria Edgeworth’s Ennui, when published in 1809 was meant to be a didactic tale, a moral piece of literature meant to entertain it’s decidedly English readers. However, as seen throughout the course of history, politics and comedy often go hand in hand. Edgeworth uses this idea to make some very interesting commentary about the state of the relationship between Britain and Ireland at the time, and what it meant to be truly British or Irish. Within the novel we meet the character of young Lord Glenthorn, who is bored of his rich and extravagant life, and no longer takes any interest in the fortunes in his possession. We learn shortly that the only reason he does not end his own life, is that he want to make things right with the one person …show more content…
This book is a political comedy from the 19th century, so there are definitely ideals that do not mesh with a current understanding of political correctness. Midway through the book, a conversation takes place between Glenthorn agent, the Scottish M’Loed, and Irishman Hardcastle. Even though neither one of the men is English, a telling conversation between them has Hardcastle proclaiming to “keep the Irishman ignorant, and you keep em quiet,” boasting to the others that since he was Irish he could speak “with confidence in the matter.” The audience of Edgeworth’s novel would not be the Irish people, but British. By having the Irishman arguing for no education of his people, it reinforces the British ideal of oppression the Irish people in order to control them better. A critique of the novel could definitely be that Edgeworth deals mainly with her elite raised Glenthorn, and his Irish counterpart Christy Donoghoe seems a mess in comparison. From a historical context, this could seen unfair to the entire nation to have both culture represented by such opposites. However, from a literary standpoint, it is fair to see the contrast as the ultimate contrast in nature vs.

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