Well I just finished reading most of the play The Witlings by Frances Burney. I have six pages left so I will finish my commentary tomorrow. A play that she did not become known for until the 1990’s even though it was published in 1779 shortly after her first novel Evelina. She defied stereotypes in writing a comedic play that was full of satire. She was the Tina Fey of the 1770’s. She showed this further through biting the hand that feeds her thorough out this play. It has been theorized that Burney is mocking Elizabeth Montague and the Bluestockings throughout all the scenes. Additionally, she is showing the hard economic times of London from 1778 to 1781 when they were having stock market difficulties. This is displayed through the milliners trying to get paid by their clients and Cecilia losing all her money because it was all invested in one stock.
But, even with this social commentary that Burney is displaying their seems to be a continuous themes of self sufficiency and scandal. I think self sufficiency is a theme because Cecilia and Beaufort throughout the play continual wish that they were not dependent on others. I can relate to this theme because as I am trying to make it through grad school and work on my thesis with my main goal in mind is to be self sufficient and support my self. The American Dream I suppose but one that has become further impeded by high unemployment rates and a recession. Also I get this continual reminder that I have not achieved said steps necessary to support myself. These reminders while helpful just continue to stress me out more in the process. I know this has nothing to do with The Witlings but I am sure that their are plenty of my peers in their 20’s who are facing similar difficulties within their own lives.
Now to go the tangent of scandal this to me shows how through the ability to mass produce print that scandal can tear someone’s reputation to shreds. This can be seen today in Gossip Girl, The Hills, and Pretty Little Liars or facebook. Also, I find it funny that Burney spends half the play satirizing Montague and the Bluestockings when Montague has supported her and her father in their writing projects. She could ironically destroy her own reputation through the producing of this play. However many shows have satirized big corporations such as 30 Rock, and Studio 60 on the Sunset strip and have gotten away with it with their reputations in place. Burney might be taking a risk but she is just trying to make light of her observations around. A point I hope to further prove with her use of satirizing in letters when I have started and finished reading Evelina. There also are many liet motifs in this play worth discussing along with an in-depth character analysis but I think that they will have to wait for the next post. Additionally, I hope to leave you readers with this quote that seems apt to this play by David Shannon “Life is not simple, and therefore history, which is past life, is not simple.”.