MA (Master of Arts)
Date of Award
Committee Chair or Co-Chairs
Judith B. Slagle
Karen L. Cajka, William Styron Harris Jr.
A Simple Story is controversial because of Inchbald's seemingly conflicting statements about women's "proper" education and because the most powerful character in the novel openly defies social norms. Miss Milner, the heroine of the first half of A Simple Story, overtly displays her sexuality and uses it to gain control of men. Her guardian Dorriforth, a Catholic priest, attempts to repress her sexual power. Miss Milner dies in exile, but Inchbald rewards her by saving her from a marriage in which her husband subdues her sexuality. Contrarily, Miss Milner's daughter Matilda represses her sexuality and conforms to eighteenth-century standards of how a woman should behave. Rather than rewarding her with a traditional marriage, Inchbald relegates her to a marriage without passion. Inchbald writes two parallel cautionary tales in order to emphasize that a woman must balance the two extremes and embrace sexuality while embracing intellect.
Thesis - Open Access
Martini, Michelle, "Sexuality and Power in Elizabeth Inchbald's A Simple Story." (2004). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 958. https://dc.etsu.edu/etd/958
Copyright by the authors.