In the article, the author begins by pointing out the various issues that stand out in the eighteenth-century novel “The Female American” by Unca Eliza (McMurran 323). The author of this article outlines several facts that are specific to eighteenth-century society. The article proceeds by laying out the peculiarity that surrounds the heroine of Winkfield’s novel. The article also points out that the author of “The Female American” has abandoned the usual antagonist/protagonist approach when telling her story. According to the author of this article, “The Female American” is a strong challenge to the various stereotypes that dominated life in eighteenth-century society.
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According to the article, the main character in “The Female American” faces few to no hurdles in the course of her adventures. This lack of realism is questioned by several scholars who are concerned with how the author of “The Female American” has handled the issues of domesticity and individualism in this book. The article notes that most of the controversies surrounding the integrity of “The Female American” are centered on the issues of feminism, masculinity, and individualism. Consequently, the author of the article is of the view that Winkfield’s book is a vehement challenge to gender and racial matters in the transatlantic society of the eighteenth century.
The author of this article also takes note of another scenario that discredits the elements of realism in “The Female American”. According to the author, Eliza’s ability to fit into her newfound society is another example of the unreal aspects of Winkfield’s book. The main character’s ability to sustain herself in her newly found Island society and her unexplained ability to sustain a hermit with survival tools is another example of how unreal aspects are manifested in the book. The author of this article also notes that Eliza can communicate using several languages fluently, a factor that further adds to the unreal aspects of “The Female American”. For instance, Helen observes that further research into the language that is used by Unca’s mother indicates that the dialect is a mixture of three languages that are not related in any manner. The author concludes this section of the article by unraveling the unreal aspects that surround the ‘hybridity’ of the main character who has a mixture of European and Native American ancestry.
This article also makes another important observation concerning the elements of realism and the unreal in Winkfield’s book. According to the author, a real-life American-European encounter in the eighteenth century would have played out differently than the scenario that is described in “The Female American”. The article points out that the author’s depiction of the Native-American in London resembles the artworks of the eighteenth century. The author then hypothesizes about the presence of this coincidence in “The Female American”. According to the author, the writer of “Female America” may have only learned about the Native-American culture through art. On the other hand, it is possible that the familiar depictions of Native Americans were only meant to appease European readers.
The author spends quite some time while trying to unearth the reasoning behind Unca Eliza’s use of pagan oracles in Winkfield’s novel. The article describes how Unca Eliza, a newly converted Christian uses a pagan oracle to impress a crowd of Native American worshippers that has gathered in an act of worship. Helen also notes that there is confusion when a pagan oracle is used by Unca Eliza to prophesy about the advent of Christianity. According to the article, the scenario where a pagan oracle makes Christian proclamations has not been witnessed in any of the other missionary-themed works of literature. The author reckons that this scenario is highly unlikely due to its contradictory nature. It is not clear what the author of “The Female American” was trying to accomplish by intermarrying pagan and Christian practices. The article points out that there is no outright preference for Christian culture over pagan practices in Winkfield’s novel. However, the author of the book is pro-Christianity.
The author of this article tries to explain the unusual marriage between oracle powers and Christianity. According to the author, the mixture of oracles and Christianity as seen in “The Female American” is a rare and (probably) an unreal aspect in eighteenth-century society. The article continues by examining the realism and unreal factors that surround the presence of the hollow and speaking statues in “The Female American” (McMurran 337). According to the author, the period after the middle ages was marked by interesting religious developments. The author of this article tries to unravel the intentions behind the portrayal of statues in Winkfield’s book. In the end, the author of this article discovers that the inclusion of pagan oracles in a Christian-themed book might have been meant as mere pastiche. The author of this article concludes by offering a list of insightful notes to the readers. These appendix notes offer explanations that are of relevance to readers such as clarifications of the eighteenth-century society. The notes also offer tips for additional research on the topic of ‘Realism and the Unreal” in Winkfield’s book.
McMurran, Mary Helen. “Realism and the Unreal in the Female American.” The Eighteenth Century 52.3 (2011): 323-342. Print.
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