Eighteenth-century women writers believed that the novel was the best vehicle to educate women and offer them a true picture of their lives and “wrongs”. Adelina Mowbray is the result of Opie’s desire to fulfil this important task. Opie does not try to offer her female readers alternatives to their present predicament or an idealized future, but makes them aware of the fact that the only ones who get victimized in a patriarchal system are always the powerless, that is to say, women. She gives us a dark image of the vulnerability of married women and points out not only how uncommon the ideal of companionate marriage was in real life, but also the difficulty of finding the appropriate partner for an egalitarian relationship. Lastly, she shows that there is now social forgiveness for those who transgress the established boundaries, which becomes obvious in the attitude of two of the most compassionate and generous characters of the novel, Rachel Pemberton and Emma Douglas, towards Adelina.
Women writers; 18th century; Opie, Amelia; Adeline Mowbray; Women; Marriage