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By David Morse

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Sample text

Holcroft and Bage diverge from the Richardsonian model by turning a dualism into a triad: by introducing a male hero, Henley and Hermsprong, who simultaneously struggles against society and against the villain and who serves as a positive focus for the author's social critique. Frank Henley and Hermsprong stand outside society; their strength and their freedom from corruption stem from this. In their perfection, their very flawlessness, they point to the fallen and enfeebled state of civilised man.

But there, when Falkland accuses Caleb, quite falsely, of stealing property of his to a considerable value, including money, gold watches and diamonds, Caleb finds that his protestations of innocence count but little; for in any conflict of opinion Mr Forester is naturally disposed to believe a member of his own class rather than a servant. The injustice to which Hawkins, a yeoman farmer who has been wrongly charged with Mr Falkland's own crime, has been subjected is now compounded by the commitment of Caleb.

I know it does! They cannot get quit of me! I am with them, weighing them down, convulsing them! - Ha! The thought is heart's ease. 69 But the converse is also true. The image of Frank Henley, his moral superior, oppresses Coke Clifton. He says of Frank, 'he seems born to cross me' 70 and in a letter describes him as his 'familiar· in a punning sense. ' 71 Frank serves as a perennial reminder for Clifton of the unworthiness of his existence. Yet his feelings are also deeply contradictory- he could 'kiss him one minute and kill him the next' 72 - his envy and resentment are the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

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