Caroline Bowles's long narrative poem Ellen Fitzarthur (1820) offers a seduction tale reminiscent of Amelia Opie's The Father and Daughter (1801), tracing the seduction of a cloistered young woman by an unscrupulous military sailor taken in by Ellen's widower father after a shipwreck. Deceived by the sailor, Ellen follows him but is abandoned, pregnant, and subsequently travels home with her infant daughter, arriving repentant and exhausted at her ancestral home after a long and difficult journey. There she discovers her recently deceased father's grave, upon which she dies in shock, leaving her daughter to be taken in by the family of a villager who turns out to be Ellen's foster brother. Pairing Bowles's poem with Opie's novel allows students to explore the roles of genre (and generic conventions) in the presentation of similar tales and to examine both the technical and the aesthetic effects and consequences of authorial choices grounded in these different literary genres.
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Stephen Behrendt; A Novel Approach to Teaching a Long Poem: Ellen Fitzarthur. Pedagogy 1 April 2016; 16 (2): 308–314. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-3435932
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