The premise of Sarah Scott's A Description of Millenium Hall obliges the author to reconcile two narrational imperatives: in order to publicize the Utopian conditions fostered by a secluded society of virtuous women, Scott must introduce a male interloper equipped to expose those conditions to general scrutiny. As paragons of modesty, her five female principals cannot decently broadcast the social arrangements that the Hall makes possible; accordingly, Scott recruits a "Gentleman on his Travels" to describe those arrangements, granting him the privileged access needed to endorse their extraordinary example. As a result of his cosmopolitan sensibilities, however, his presentational perspective threatens to distort the distinctively feminine Utopia that the narrative envisions. To offset his functional deficiencies, Scott assigns him a collaborator, Mrs Maynard, whose impact on the complexion of the novel has been remarkably undervalued. Although she ostensibly acts as a sixth principal, she may be better understood as a liminal figure whose special status allows her to compensate for the limitations of unassuming insiders and worldly outsiders. Her contribution to the narrative complements and completes the gentleman's telling, allowing Scott to preserve and promote her paradise, to present it as a workable alternative without undermining the source of its alterity.
Wandless, William H.
"Secretaries of the Interior: Narratorial Collaboration in Sarah Scott's Millenium Hall,"
2, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol21/iss2/4
William H. Wandless is assistant professor of English at Central Michigan University, and his recent published work includes lyric poetry, speculative fiction, and essays on ethics and representation in eighteenth-century narrative.