Belinda is an 1801 novel by the Irish writer Maria Edgeworth. It was first published in three volumes by Joseph Johnson of London in 1801, and was later printed again by Pandora Press in 1986. The book was Edgeworth's second published. The book was noted for showing interracial marriage.
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Lady Delacour is a bel esprit (woman of wit), who Belinda at first thinks “the most agreeable—no, that is too feeble an expression—the most fascinating person she had ever beheld (known).” Later, however, after Belinda hears about her sad life, she feels sorry for her. Belinda is very kind to Lady Delacour, who begins to like her. Through Belinda's gentleness, Lady Delacour begins to change. She becomes more caring for her husband and daughter Helena. However, Lady Delacour's sudden untrue jealousy towards Belinda and makes her move to the Percivals' house, where Helena is staying at. Later, Lady Delacour finds out that she was completely wrong and had misunderstood Belinda's good intentions. She becomes very ill, and begs for Belinda to forgiver her and come back. Belinda, accepting her apology, comes, and now Lady Delacour does everything Belinda advises her to do, and makes up with her husband, revealing to him how she is ill, that she had been hiding from everybody except herself and Belinda and her maid. Lord Delacour feels worried for her when he hears this. She takes a surgery, and is told that she is actually not ill at all. The bad doctor she had been going to had given her the wrong medicines, and therefore made her sick. Joyfully, she decides to be a good wife, a sweet friend, and a kind mother. She ends the book by saying, while laughing, “Now, Lady Delacour, to show that she is reformed, comes forward to address the audience with a moral—a moral!—yes,
Our tale contains a moral, and no doubt, You all have wit enough to find it out.”
Her strong character and the very important part she plays in the book make some people think the title should be her name instead of Belinda's.
Belinda Portman is a young lady. She is about seventeen years old. She is “handsome, graceful, sprightly, and highly accomplished.” She has good skills, but is unused to thinking for herself, for her aunt orders her to do everything(though her thoughts are often very different). Belinda is innocent and loving, and loves Clarence Hervey, though she does not even admit it to herself. Mr. Vincent and Sir Philip both want to marry her. She is very forgiving, as seen when she forgives Lady Delacour, but has good self-control over her feelings – for example, she does not blush (turns red) later when people talk about Clarence Hervey, and is not shaken by Mrs. Freke when she said she would be her enemy.
Clarence Hervey is a clever and witty young man, who is gallant, and is, as Belinda said at first, “a most uncommonly pleasing young man.” He is shown to have a warm heart, for he asks Lady Delacour to make his peace with Belinda after he spoke badly about her. He admires Lady Delacour, and tries to change her. But after that, he begins to like Belinda. However, he had been secretly taking care of another girl, Virginia, and now, thinking that he must marry Virginia, he tries to forget about Belinda. But later, Virginia shows him that she loves somebody else. So he tells Belinda that he loves her, and they marry.
Lady Anne Percival is very different from Lady Delacour. She is a gentle, motherly, reasonable lady. Belinda later also tells Mr. Vincent, when he compares Lady Anne Percival and Lady Delacour, “I have never seen any woman who would not suffer by a comparison with Lady Anne Percival.” She loves literature, and that makes her a good wife to Mr. Percival. She is kind and motherly, and loves Helena like her daughter. She also treats Belinda kindly, and thinks carefully before she judges people. She wished for Belinda to marry Mr. Vincent. At first, Lady Delacour did not like her, feeling jealous and thinking that Helena liked Lady Anne Percival better than her. However, later at the end, it is guessed that she becomes good friends with Lady Anne Percival.
- Edgeworth, Maria. "Belinda". upenn.edu. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
- McCann, Andrew (Autumn 1996). ""Conjugal love and the enlightenment subject: The colonial context of non-identity in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda"". findarticles.com. Retrieved 2007-12-07.[dead link]