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The Narrative Form of Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall

During the 18th century, the topics of creating the perfect social model and developing a strong friendship among the representatives of the high social class were popular. However, in her novel Millenium Hall (1762), Sarah Scott focused on the specific approach to discussing the above-mentioned topics and presented the story about the perfect female community as the model of the utopian society and about the strengths and advantages of the female friendship. It is important to note that the uniqueness of the novel is not only in the specific content but also in an interesting narrative form. Thus, the novel is developed in the form of a letter written by the male character who listened to the stories told by Mrs. Maynard and later represented them in the letter. Nevertheless, the novel is characterized by the loose narrative frame because each of the stories has the form of a detailed and separate narrative. Although the novel Millenium Hall is characterized by the specific disjoined form, all the stories are combined with the help of the frame narrative, and separate stories about the main characters contribute to the discussion of the utopian society through the presentation of the individual stories in their connection with the aspects of the social development.

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The five sections of the novel have different structures about the narratives’ purposes. The first section presents the frame story in the form of the letter in which the details of the Millenium Hall’s life are provided. The just principles of life in the idealized community are described as the most appropriate approach to develop the society. Furthermore, the ideas that the society ruled by women equally can be more effective than the traditional patriarchal society are presented in this section directly and indirectly. From this point, the first section in the form of a letter describing the Millenium Hall’s community differs significantly in its structure and organization from the other sections which provide the individual stories about the aspects of the women’s early lives. Before joining Millenium Hall, Miss Mancel, Mrs. Morgan, Lady Mary Jones, Miss Selvyn, and Miss Trentham lived according to the traditions of the patriarchal society, and all the details of their paths to the community are discussed in these separate narratives. Thus, the novel takes the disjointed shape while describing the community and individual stories because different forms of narratives focus on describing the aspects of the perfect collective life in contrast to the unhappy individual life of the Millenium Hall’s women.

The first section describing Millenium Hall is provided as the letter written by the male narrator, and the other stories and adventures are narrated by Mrs. Maynard. Even though the main part of the novel is in the form of separate narratives about the details of the women’s lives, the most effective narrative structure is the letter from the first section because the principles of the life in the Millenium Hall’s community are provided not only from the perspectives of their effectiveness for the utopian society but also from the individual perception of the male narrator. Thus, the narrative structure of the first section works effectively for the novel because this one section reflects the approach used in the whole novel when the social aspects associated with the Millenium Hall’s life are represented in combination with the individual element illustrated in the personal stories.

To demonstrate the connection between the social component or the ideal variant of the female economy as the institutional history of Millenium Hall and the individual stories of women who created the utopian society with its specific rules, it is necessary to focus on the story of Mrs. Morgan who was the founder of Millenium Hall. Mrs. Morgan’s individual story and the development of the community’s principles are closely associated because the ideals and visions shared by Mrs. Morgan became the basic principles of Millenium Hall as the institution and as the perfectly just society. Thus, the story of Mrs. Morgan is a good example to compare the previous woman’s life full of suffering with a happy life full of virtues in the community. While developing the vision of the Christian love and virtues during the previous unhappy adventures, Mrs. Morgan chose these principles to build the Millenium Hall’s community where morality, charity, philanthropy, and Christian love are the major concepts and principles.

The personal story of Mrs. Morgan made her establish Millenium Hall because during her life Mrs. Morgan was concentrated on becoming a good role model for other women. It was important for this lady to remain virtuous and just despite the situation and encourage the other women to see their power. That is why Millenium Hall was founded as the place to state the principles of love and morality over the social norms. Moreover, Mrs. Morgan’s story can be discussed as the perfect illustration of the concept of ‘virtue in distress’ because this woman did not lose her faith and will while living in an unhappy marriage and coping with difficulties in relations. Mrs. Morgan developed the ideals of the life full of virtues, and these principles were chosen as governing in Millenium Hall. From this point, the example of Mrs. Morgan’s approach to life helped the other female representatives of the community to achieve good results in forming the perfect society. Furthermore, the personal story of Mrs. Morgan contributed to the development of the idea of feminine virtue important for determining the other basic rules for Millenium Hall’s development as a powerful social and economic structure. Although the personal stories of the women living in Millenium Hall cannot be discussed as happy, their focus on the Christian morality and principles of philanthropy, gratitude, faith, and charity reflect their feminine virtues and care for less fortunate people or persons in need.

In her novel Millenium Hall, Sarah Scott discusses the utopian community which was founded as the ideals female society built on the principles of Christian morality. To contribute to the discussion of the community’s specific role and its advantages in comparison with the traditional patriarchal societies, the author uses the disjoined form for the novel when sections are organized differently about presented narratives. This approach is effective to demonstrate the community’s details and principles along with the main idea from many perspectives, including the views of the male and female narrators. Furthermore, the author receives the opportunity to focus on the connection of the individual stories and their role in building the perfect or utopian social structure or community such as Millenium Hall.

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