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Literature / Evelina

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A novel written by Fanny Burney and published in 1778. In the form of letters, it tells of the entrance of a young girl named Evelina into society and of how she became reacquainted with her family, gained an inheritance and got married.

Tropes present in Evelina:

  • At the Opera Tonight: An opera scene serves mainly to show off how uncultured most of the other characters are.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Mr. McCartney intends to rob a stagecoach and to take a pair of pistols to kill himself in case he gets caught. Evelina, mistaking the situation for simple suicide, takes the pistols away from him.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Thanks to Willoughby's forged letter, this happens briefly to Lord Orville in Evelina's eyes.
  • Butt-Monkey: Madame Duval is frequently the butt of Captain Mirvan’s insults and pranks. Towards the end of the novel, Mr. Lovel takes on this role.
  • Character Title: The title is the heroine's name.
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • Contrived Coincidence:The young man Evelina stopped from killing himself just happened to be her long lost half brother.
  • Cool Old Lady: Lady Howard and Mrs. Selwyn.
  • Daddy's Girl: He may not be her biological father but Evelina is definitely the apple of Arthur Villars eye.
  • Dances and Balls: There are several.
  • Dance of Romance: Evelina first meets Lord Orville at a ball where he asks her to dance.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mrs. Selwyn is this trope in spades.
  • Death by Childbirth: the heroine’s mother dies not long after giving birth to her.
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  • The Ditz: Madame Duval
  • Does Not Like Men: The widower Mrs. Selwyn.
  • Doting Parent: Reverend Villars is this to Evelina.
  • Either/Or Title: Evelina or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World.
  • Epistolary Novel
  • Gold Digger: Madame Duval, the whole Branghton family and Willoughby.
  • Grande Dame: Madame Duval acts this way.
  • Happily Adopted: Evelina.
  • The Ingenue: Evelina starts off like this due to her sheltered upbringing.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Evelina comes upon Mr. McCartney with a pair of pistols in his hands. She grabs them away from him and begs him not to kill himself. The truth, as he later explains to her, is more complicated. He had been going to rob a stagecoach and had taken the guns to use on himself in case it went awry. He's happy that she stopped him, though.
  • Jerkass: Sir Clement Willoughby, Captain Mirvan, The Branghtons, Mr. Lovel, and Lord Merton. This novel is packed with jerks. In the backstory, Evelina's father married her mother in order to seduce her and then denied it ever happened.
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  • The Lad-ette: Mrs. Selwyn. She is described as being very masculine by Evelina.
  • Long Lost Sibling: Mr. Maccartney is Evelina's half brother.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sir Belmont's reaction to eventually seeing Evelina.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Evelina starts out like this.
  • One-Word Title
  • Parental Abandonment: Evelina’s mother died giving birth to her and her father abandoned her mother before Evelina was even born.
  • Plucky Girl: Evelina.
  • Proper Lady: Evelina and Miss Mirvan.
  • Rich Bitch: Lord Orville’s sister.
  • Shrinking Violet: Evelina.
  • Smug Snake: Mr. Lovel.
  • The Stoic: Lord Orville. Sir Clement Willoughby even describes him as phlegmatic.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Evelina is the exact likeness of her deceased mother.
  • Surprise Incest: The eponymous heroine saves one Mr. Maccartney from suicide, since he believes he fell in love with his sister. Maccartney grows to idolize his savior Evelina in a quasi-romantic fashion. However, at the end of the novel, Evelina is revealed to be his real sister, while his original beloved was an unwitting (and unrelated) impostor
  • Take Care of the Kids: Evelina's mother made Reverend Villars promise to protect her daughter.
  • Weddings for Everyone: The ending.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Evelina and Lord Orville. They will.


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