Expression Is Only Ever Found In The Work Of Others

Sophia’s constant desire to quote can be taken as her posh way of expressing her inner emotions to her dear friend Arabella. Towards the end of Letter XVI, Sophia quotes James Thomson’s “The Four Seasons: Summer” before she mentions her worry about meeting Mrs. D―:

Lo! the green serpent, from its dark abode,

which e’en Imagination fears to tread,

At noon forth issuing, gathers up its train

In orbs immense, then, darting out anew,

Seeks the refreshing fount; by which diffus’d

He throws his folds: and, while with threat’ning tongue,

And deathful jaws erect, the monster curls

His flaming crest, all other thirst, appall’d

Or shiv’ring flies, or check’d at distance stands,

Nor dares approach. (116)

Introducing the quotation itself seemed out of place. Sophia finishes discussing her story of her time with Mrs. Hartly, and she then immediately mention Thomson’s ability to describe an animal that “must be seen” (115). Ultimately I would argue that Sophia uses the image of the fear inducing serpent to describe how she believes it would be best if Mrs D― stayed away from her father and only admired him from afar. 

What I found interesting is how constant her references are, and it becomes evident that for the English language, using poetry, plays, or biblical references are equal to the way I use Disney and music references when talking to my own friends (I recognize this may be a stretch comparison). In some way, referencing what would then be like “pop culture” is an ordinary way for teenager Sophia to express herself. I would argue that rather than take this as a spoiled brat (which I agree she is) overdoing her letters to her “friend” back home, in this moment she is a worried teenager dealing with the future of her relationship with her father.

-Elizabeth Dominguez

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