chapter  3
Edgeworth’s Belinda: An Artful Composition
WithSusan B. Egenolf
Pages 31

This chapter intertitle, "Masks," acts as a framing gloss for the repeated statement about "art and affectation," for affectation can be considered a mask of sorts, a form of display which depends upon being seen, but not seen through. Belinda is a novel about character and about attempting to discern a person's true character. The chapter focuses on three principal iconic glosses, the Virginia St. Pierre portrait, the Lady Anne Percival and children portrait, and the staged tableau of the major characters that ends the novel. The generic fluidity of the Virginia St. Pierre portrait has narrative implications, for genre establishes the credibility of the painting's story and limits the truth it can reveal. Maria Edgeworth's tableau vivant plays off the characteristics of this popular art form with the couples being arranged to indicate their new intimacy.