Vauxhall Gardens in Frances Burney’s Evelina
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Frances Burney’s Evelina portrays a world where politeness, manners, and proper etiquette are very important. When Evelina first encounters Vauxhall Gardens, she has yet to believe that the place is anything but reputable, and she endeavors to express her satisfaction with some pleasure. This can lead modern readers to think that Vauxhall Gardens is a reputable place. Modern readers have, up to this point, experienced Vauxhall Gardens as a pretty place, but overly formal, that is open to visitors well into the evening. Perhaps modern readers are reminded of modern day botanical gardens, that are also often well-lit in the evenings. Though unlike Vauxhall Gardens, modern botanical gardens tend to only have orchestras during special occasions. This first impression may leave modern readers surprised when Evelina and the Miss Branghtons go to the dark walks and encounter the disagreeable people that they do, and with the promptness that the encounter occurs. In this instance, it would seem most important to not let the first impression be the final impression. It may be supposed that naive Evelina is unfamiliar with the full reputation of Vauxhall Gardens, and that the charm of the well-lit areas has left Evelina as unprepared for what the dark walks hold as modern readers. This would also raise the question of how well aware Evelina’s relations would have been to the varying attitudes toward Vauxhall Gardens, and what attitudes and understandings Burney’s contemporaries had toward Vauxhall Gardens.