The Role of Clergy

An examination of the role of clergy during the 1790’s.

A look at the role played by clergymen in two 1790’s novels: “A Simple Story” by Elizabeth Inchbald and “The Romance of the Forest” by Ann Radcliffe. The author investigates the differences of the role of clergymen in the two novels.
“An examination of the differences between clergymen in Elizabeth Inchbald’s A Simple Story and Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest indicates some of the philosophical changes that were taking place throughout Europe and specifically in England by 1791, the year that both books were published. Not only do these novels illustrate a marked difference between Catholic and Protestant clergy, but also acknowledge a growing perception of individualism as a philosophic precept. Inchbald’s priests are stern, unyielding, forbidding representations of a paternalistic ideology in which the moral authority is unquestionable. Radcliffe’s pastor, on the other hand, is a benevolent, serene shepherd of his flock who leads by example rather than inflexible rule.”