Essays in Romanticism

Property, Money, and Benevolence in The Mysteries of Udolpho

Essays in Romanticism (2019), 26, (1), 71–88.

Abstract

This essay suggests that Ann Radcliffe’s writings exhibit greater attention to economic concerns of money and property than has been acknowledged. An analysis of her often-overlooked travel narrative, A Journey Made in the Summer of 1794, shows Radcliffe had a consistent and significant interest in mundane expenses and the reasons for getting and spending money. By examining depictions of money and property in Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, this essay argues that Radcliffe shows a world where happiness requires the possession of property and the exercise of benevolence. This analysis helps to explain her reliance on the “explained supernatural” technique. The constant reminder of economic forces grounds her fiction in the real, even when her characters are experiencing fantasy, and shows how Radcliffe engaged with the debates about the value of money that were of great concern in the 1790s.

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Author details

Orr, Leah