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Clergyman's Daughter, A

orwell heroine novel life

a novel by George Orwell, published in 1935. Orwell's first novel has an erratic story-line that is not entirely justified by the wanderings of its heroine Dorothy Hare, the clergyman's daughter of the title; after an attack of amnesia, she is plunged into the miseries of unemployment and vagrancy. The contrast between the setting of her restricted, church-going life and the harshness of the pauper's environment is thoroughly Orwellian; the self-conscious modishness of the more experimental passages of writing is much less so. Orwell is really engaged in two projects, seizing the opportunity for social critique in the course of analysing the nature of his spinster heroine's sexual repressions. In the end, the ‘condition of England’ elements seem irrelevant to the personal development of a character whose facile rehabilitation does not resolve the psychological tensions built up around powerful feelings of disgust and repugnance at the idea of physical contact. Orwell is not fully in control of his design, despite the evocativeness of his descriptions of life among hop-pickers in Kent, the desolation in his portrait of down-and-outs in Trafalgar Square, and the trenchancy of his account of the Dickensian private school, all reflecting aspects of his own experience.

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