“WHATEVER HER FAITH MAY BE”: SOME NOTES ON CATHOLICISM IN MARIA EDGEWORTH’S OEUVRE
AbstractThe relationship between the Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth (1768- 1849) and Catholicism has always been close and conditioned by the authoress’s inscription in the Protestant Ascendancy ancatholod by her father’s enlightened ideas. The intention of the present study is to reevaluate the role of Roman Catholics in the fictional and non-fictional texts some of which Edgeworth wrote alone and others in collaboration with her father. The Edgeworths were more interested in individual worth than in sectarianism and promoted the economic and intellectual advancement of Ireland, a process in which Catholics not only played an important part but also appeared in a quite favourable light. The defence and acceptance of Catholics is articulated in Edgeworth’s works around the insistence on the education of the Irish Catholics and the depiction of the legitimisation of the Anglo-Irish landlord and his marriage to a woman of Catholic ancestry. It will be shown that, rather than embrace the position of a colonist, Edgeworth bravely attacked prejudice and abuses of power on the part of the English against the Irish and at the same time she foresaw a society where Roman Catholics would retain their identity and would also occupy the same social level as the rest of the British.
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