Cecilia by Frances Burney
©Cathy Decker, 1998
Last Update 2/25/01
Books about Frances Burney and Cecilia
1. Cutting-Gray, Joanne. Woman
as `Nobody' and the Novels of Fanny Burney. Gainesville: UP of Florida,
2. Castle, Terry. "Masquerade and Utopia I: Burney's Cecilia." In Masquerade
and Civilization: The Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-century English Culture and
Fiction. By Terry Castle. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1986. 253-89.
3. Brown, Martha G. "Fanny Burney's `Feminism': Gender or Genre?" In Fetter'd
or Free? British Women Novelists, 1670-1815. Eds. Mary Anne Schofield
and Cecilia Macheski. Athens, Ohio: Ohio UP, 1986. 29-39.
4. Spender, Dale. "Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth and the Height of Achievement."
of the Novel: 100 Good Women Writers Before Jane Austen. By Dale Spender.
New York: Pandora, 1986. 270-300. [This chapter includes a picture of Burney.
Be aware this book is written for a less scholarly audience and contains many
typographical errors and inaccurate dates of publication. It is however very
readable and is a convenient source with which to begin your research.]
See also the volume of The Diary and Letters of Madame d'Arblay which
discusses the years in which Cecilia was written and those following
(page numbers refer to Oxford
University Press paperback edition edited by Margaret Doody; the first number
given after the name is the first mention of the character/the page after the
slash is the first naming of character)
Note down basic information about these characters; if they attend the masquerade, note what
costume (if any) they wore. Note also the unique style of each character's speech patterns. Try
to jot down a description of each character's style of speech.
Miss Cecilia Beverley (5) discussion of character 55
Miss Beverley's uncle, the Dean of ----- (5)
Mrs. Charlton (6) discussion of character 6
Mr. Harrel (6) discussion of character 53
Mr. Monckton (7) discussion of character 7-10
Lady Margaret Monckton (6/7) discussion of character 10
Miss Bennet (11) discussion of character 11
Mr. or Captain Aresby (11) discussion of character 11
Mr. Morrice (11) discussion of character 11, 13, 48
Mr. Albany (11/69) discussion of character 66, 69
Mr. Belfield (11) discussion of character 11-2, 14-6
Mrs. Harrel (21) discussion of character 21, 32-3, 54
Miss Larolles (23) discussion of character 25, 28, 40-5
Miss Leeson (23) discussion of character 30, 40-5
Mr. Arnott (25) discussion of character 52-3
Mr. Gosport (25/26)
Mr. Delvile (33) discussion of character 97-9
Mr. Briggs (33) discussion of character 94-6
Sir Robert Floyer (34) discussion of character 34, 53
Mrs. Hill (71/72) discussion of character 71-3, 86-7
Mr. Meadows (132) discussion of character 132-3
Mr. Mortimer Delvile (111/145)
Mrs. Delvile (151) 160, 236, 238, 241, 318, 353-8, 425
Mortimer Delvile--241, 250-3, 282, 310, 313, 333, 348-51
Mr. Delvile--187, 256-7, 259-61, 427-9
Mr. Briggs--177-181, 323-6, 333
Miss Henrietta Belfield (205/211) 239-40, 247, 344-6
Belfield--211-2, 214-20, 246
Mrs. Belfield (215) 220, 222-5, 247, 314-7, 340-2
Dr. Rupil (226) 227-8
Mr. Meadows--274-9, 287, 353
Mr. Marriot (327) 337, 419-20, 423, 430
Mr. Hobson (400/1) 405-11
Simpkins (402) 404-5, 407-11
1. What sort of life does Mr. Monckton have planned for Cecilia?
2. Note the competition to sit near Cecilia (13, 83-4, and at masquerade), to hand her to her
carriage (19) and to help her out of the pit at the opera (137-8). Why does Burney include so
many such incidents? Why are these men competing to be near Cecilia or help her?
3. Why did the Dean pick each of Cecilia's guardians? Why is each not suited to the task for
which he was selected? What problems does each guardian cause Cecilia?
4. One of the first key scenes in the book is a debate over whether you should let society dictate
your behavior or decide how you should behave yourself. Who takes part in this debate? What
is each person's stance? What characters in the book follow the rules of society? What
characters in the book set their own behavioral standards? Why is Cecilia not free to act as she
Chapter by Chapter Reading Guide
Note: I never typed out any answers to these questions,
so please don't write and ask for the answers--I don't have any to send you,
sadly. I also cannot send you plots summaries either, but you can easily go
to a college library and get one!
What is the journey of the title?
Chapter 1 A Journey
What sort of metaphorical, not physical journey is Cecilia beginning?
Chapter 2 An Argument
What arguments occur in this chapter?
How are these arguments related to key themes developed later in the book?
Chapter 3 An Arrival
How is Cecilia's arrival different from what she expected?
Chapter 4 A Sketch of High Life
What is High Life like?
Chapter 5 An Assembly
What men seem attracted to Cecilia? What does she think of them?
Chapter 6 A Breakfast
What of significance occurs at this breakfast?
Chapter 7 A Project
What is the project of the title?
Chapter 8 An Opera Rehearsal
What strange things happen at this opera rehearsal?
Chapter 9 A Supplication
What two supplications occur in this chapter?
Chapter 10 A Provocation
What is the provocation?
Chapter 11 A Narration
Who tells the narration and what function does it serve in relationship to the larger plot?
Chapter 1 A Man of Wealth
Why is this man not a good guardian for Cecilia?
Chapter 2 A Man of Family
Why is this man not a good guardian for Cecilia?
Chapter 3 A Masquerade
What does the masquerade reveal about London society?
What does the masquerade reveal about Cecilia's relationships with various characters?
Chapter 4 An Affray
What is the affray?
How is the affray interpreted by people?
Chapter 5 A Fashionable Friend
Who is a true friend to Cecilia in this chapter?
Who disappoints Cecilia?
Chapter 6 A Family Party
What does Cecilia think of the Delvile family?
Chapter 7 An Examination
What two examinations occur in this chapter?
Chapter 8 A Tete-a-tete
What two characters have a private conversation? Do they communicate clearly?
Chapter 1 An Application
What two applications occur in this chapter?
How does Briggs feel about her debts? women reading books?
Chapter 2 A Perplexity
How has the mob scene confused Delvile the son?
What does Delvile the father think of women reading books?
What two things could be the perplexity of the title?
Chapter 3 A Admonition
What two admonitions occur in this chapter?
Chapter 4 An Evasion
Who evades who and why?
Chapter 5 An Adventure
What is the adventure? Why is it dangerous?
What is the benefit of the adventure?
Who is the Man of Genius? What is he like?
Chapter 7 An Expedient
What is Cecilia trying to do that she cannot do directly? Why can't she?
What is her expedient method?
Does it succeed?
Chapter 8 A Remonstrance
Who reproves who? Why?
Chapter 9 A Victory
What is the victory?
Who complains to Cecilia? Why?
Chapter 1 A Complaint
What is Cecilia's response?
Chapter 2 A Sympathy
What two characters are in sympathy?
What is the state of Cecilia's love-life?
Chapter 3 A Conflict
What do Cecilia and Mr. Monckton disagree about?
Chapter 4 An Expectation
What does Cecilia expect from Mr. Delvile? Does it happen?
What does she decide to do about her love life?
Chapter 5 An Agitation
What characters are agitated and why?
How does Harrel try to kill himself?
What does Cecilia do? Why?
What do you think Cecilia should have done?
Why do they go to the Pantheon?
Chapter 6 A Man of the Ton
What is the ton?
Who is the man of the ton?
Who and what are the insensiblists?
Who and what are the jargonists?
Who and how does Morrice injury someone at the Pantheon?
What good comes from the accident at the Pantheon?
What does Albany do at the Pantheon?
In what way does Cecilia change her mind about her love life?
Chapter 7 A Reproof
What two people give reproofs and why?
Why won't Monckton get rid of Sir Robert for Cecilia?
Chapter 8 A Mistake
How does Mortimer Delvile behave to Cecilia?
How does Cecilia decide to get rid of Sir Robert?
Chapter 9 An Explanation
Why has everyone thought Cecilia was engaged to Sir Robert?
What does Cecilia say to Lord Ernolf's proposal for his son and why?
What does Cecilia finally have to do to get rid of Sir Robert?
What does Delvile do when he find Cecilia is not engaged?
Chapter 10 A Murmuring
What does Mrs. Belfield believe about Cecilia?
What is a rout? Who holds the rout and why?
Chapter 1 A Rout
What does Mr. Briggs do at the rout?
Who is Mr. Marriot? What does Cecilia think of him?
Who does Miss Larolles think Cecilia will marry?
What do we find out about Mr. Meadow's past?
Why is Cecilia mad at Mortimer?
Chapter 2 A Broad Hint
Who gives the broad hint and what is it? What is Cecilia's response to the hint?
Chapter 3 An Accommodation
What is the relationship between Cecilia and Henrietta Belfield?
Chapter 4 A Detection
What is detected by Cecilia?
Who does Henrietta love?
What does Cecilia decide to do about her new rival?
Chapter 5 A Sarcasm
Who is mean and sarcastic to Cecilia? Why?
Who is Lady Honoria Pemberton?
What does Lady Honoria say about Cecilia's love life?
What does Lady Honoria say about Mortimer's sex life?
How do Mrs. Delvile and Cecilia make up?
Chapter 6 A Surmise
What is surmised by Cecilia about Mr. Harrel?
What is surmised by Cecilia about Delvile and Henrietta?
Chapter 7 A Bold Stroke
What does Mr. Harrel decide to do about his debts?
What does Cecilia resolve to do?
Chapter 8 A Miser's Mansion
Why can't Cecilia move in with Mr. Briggs?
Chapter 9 A Declaration
Why can't Cecilia move in with the Delviles?
What does Cecilia say to Mr. Arnott's proposal?
How does Cecilia find a place to stay?
Chapter 10 A Gamester's Conscience
What does Mr. Harrel demand?
What does Mr. Harrel demand?
Chapter 11 A Persecution
What does Cecilia do?
Chapter 12 A Man of Business
Who is the man of business?
What is Mr. Hobson's philosophy?
What does Mr. Harrel do?
What do Sir Robert and Mr. Marriot do?
How does Cecilia prevent a duel?
Chapter 13 A Solution
What does Cecilia ask Mr. Delvile to do?
Why does he say no?
What does the packet reveal?
What does Mr. Monckton do?
What does the chapter reveal about fashionable marriages?
What does Cecilia think when she sees Henrietta's kiss?
Chapter 1 A Debate
How is Mr. Hobson connected with Mrs. Belfield?
What do Mr. Hobson, Mrs. Belfield, and Cecilia discuss?
Why doesn't Cecilia tell the Delvile's about the money she gave to Mr. Harrel?
What do you think the title of this chapter refers to?
Chapter 2 A Railing
Who rails at who?
Chapter 3 An Antique Mansion
How does Mortimer act to Cecilia at Delvile Castle?
What do the neighbors think of Mr. and Mrs. Delvile?
What does Mrs. Delvile think of Mr. Delvile?
What is Mortimer's relationship with his parents?
Chapter 4 A Rattle
Who is the rattle? Why is she called this?
What is Lord Derford's appearance and personality like, according to Lady Honoria?
Who is Lady Euphrasia and what is her relationship to Mortimer?
Chapter 5 A Storm
How is Mortimer acting unusual this summer?
What happens in the thunderstorm?
Is Mortimer's declaration of love appealing? Is he an attractive character? Should Cecilia love
Chapter 6 A Mystery
What is the problem with "Deep reasoners" (482), and what is the advantage to being a deep
Why does Lady Honoria think Mortimer is a puppet or a baby?
What duel is Lady Honoria trying to promote and why?
Who is Fidel, and why is he important to Cecilia?
Chapter 7 An Anecdote
What is the anecdote that Lady Honoria tells?
How is Cecilia's love for Mortimer revealed to Lady Honoria and Mrs. Delvile?
What is the true story of the woman and baby that Mortimer is paying for and visiting?
Chapter 8 A Conference
What does Mrs. Delvile think is wrong with Lady Honoria?
What is attractive about Lady Honoria?
What kind of marriage does Mrs. Delvile want for Mortimer?
Chapter 9 An Attack
How does Lady Honoria provoke Cecilia and Mr. Delvile?
Why does she do this?
What is the reason Mortimer loves Cecilia?
Why can't Mortimer marry Cecilia?
Chapter 10 A Retreat
Why does Mortimer think he is insane?
Chapter 11 A Worry
How does Lady Honoria make Lord Ernolf aware that Cecilia loves Mortimer?
Where does Cecilia decide to go and why?
Why is Cecilia's "last hope of earthly happiness extinguished" (528)?
What is the meaning of the title?
Chapter 1 A Renovation
Chapter 2 A Visit
What does Cecilia tell Mrs. Charlton after Fidel arrives at Mrs. Charlton's house?
What does Lady Honoria tell Cecilia when she visits her at Mrs. Charlton's?
Chapter 3 An Incident
What does Cecilia tell Fidel that Mortimer overhears?
Why is Cecilia so humiliated and annoyed after Mortimer leaves?
Chapter 4 A Proposition
What is Mortimer's proposition? Why is it degrading?
Why does Cecilia cry?
Chapter 5 A Letter
Who all knows about the Mortimer-Cecilia romance?
What does Mortimer in his letter say he wants Cecilia to do? Why?
What is Mrs. Charlton's advice?
Chapter 6 A Discussion
What do Cecilia and Mortimer agree to do?
Who do they choose to help them? Why is this a bad choice?
Chapter 7 A Retrospection
What does Cecilia regret after retrospection?
What does Mr. Monckton convince Cecilia to do?
Do you think Cecilia should marry Mortimer or not, now that they have already planned the
Chapter 8 An Embarrassment
Now that Monckton hasn't delivered the letter, what do you think Cecilia should do?
What does Cecilia decide to do?
Chapter 9 A Torment
How does Morrice torment Cecilia?
How does Miss Larolles torment Cecilia?
How does Mr. Gosport torment Cecilia?
What do these high society people think of Mr. Harrel's death?
Why is the journey to London interrupted?
Chapter 1 An Interruption
When Mortimer and Cecilia can talk who interrupts them and why?
Why does Cecilia feel "whatever path I now take must lead me wrong!" (619)?
Why does Cecilia resolve to marry Mortimer? Is this a good reason?
Chapter 2 An Event
Why is Cecilia late for the wedding?
What happens to prevent the wedding?
Did Cecilia make the right decision?
What is Mortimer's position?
Chapter 3 A Consternation
What does Mrs. Delvile want Cecilia to do?
Why is Mrs. Delvile so against Cecilia and Mortimer getting married?
Chapter 4 A Perturbation
Why does Mrs. Delvile want Cecilia never to see Mortimer again?
Why does Cecilia go to Mr. Arnott's?
Chapter 5 A Cottage
What is Mr. Belfield doing at the cottage?
What does Belfield believe is the source of happiness now?
Chapter 6 A Contest
Why does Mrs. Delvile now want Cecilia to see Mortimer?
What is the position of Mrs. Delvile, Cecilia, and Mortimer in this fight?
What physically happens to Cecilia when forced to give up Mortimer?
How does Mortimer respond to this?
What illness strikes Mrs. Delvile?
Chapter 7 A Message
What is Mr. Delvile's message to Cecilia?
Chapter 8 A Parting
What advice does Dr. Lister give Cecilia?
Who does Dr. Lister say knows of the aborted wedding?
Chapter 9 A Tale
What is the history of Albany?
How does Cecilia respond to this story?
Chapter 10 A Shock
What is Cecilia's fantasy?
What happens to Mrs. Charlton?
Where will Cecilia go now?
How does Mr. Monckton get Lady Margaret to go to London?
Chapter 1 A Cogitation
Why does Cecilia go to London?
Chapter 2 A Surprize
What is Belfield doing now?
How is Monckton suprized by Cecilia's behavior?
Chapter 3 A Confabulation
Why did Belfield change his situation in life?
Why does Monckton think independence is impossible?
Chapter 4 A Wrangling
What do Mr. Briggs and Mr. Hobson fight over?
What do Mr. Albany and Mr. Briggs fight over?
What do Mr. Albany and Mr. Hobson fight over?
What do Mr. Delvile and Mr. Briggs fight over?
What does Mr. Delvile accuse Cecilia of?
Who does Cecilia suspect has told Mr. Delvile these distorted half-truths?
Chapter 5 A Suspicion
Who does Cecilia suspect has told Mr. Delvile these distorted half-truths?
Who is the Pew-Opener and what is her relationship to Cecilia?
Chapter 6 A Disturbance
Why does Cecilia agree to visit the Belfield's apartment?
Who all arrives at the apartment after Cecilia is there?
What do Mrs. Belfield, Mr. Delvile, and Mr. Hobson think is the relationship between Cecilia
Chapter 7 A Calm
Cecilia plans a "mental reformation" (790). What does this involve?
How much a year is Cecilia spending on charity?
Chapter 8 An Alarm
What does Henrietta think Delvile wishes to talk to her about?
What has Delvile come to talk about?
Why does Delvile want to defy his father now?
Chapter 9 A Suspense
What is the state of Mr. and Mrs. Delvile's marriage after Mortimer tries to clear Cecilia's
character to his father?
Chapter 10 A Relation
Why does Mrs. Delvile now want Cecilia and Mortimer to marry?
Will Mr. and Mrs. Delvile ever live together again?
How does Delvile plan to save money so they can live without Cecilia's money?
Chapter 11 An Enterprise
What is the enterprise? What happens after the enterprise is over?
What does Cecilia discover about Miss Bennet, Mr. Monckton, and Morrice?
Chapter 1 A Discovery
Chapter 2 An Interview
Why do Mortimer and Monckton duel?
Why must Mortimer leave the country?
What happens to Cecilia's mental health when she finds out about the duel?
Why doesn't Mortimer want Cecilia to come abroad with him and his mother?
Chapter 3 A Summons
How does Lady Margaret die?
When does Mr. Eggleston think Cecilia got married?
What is he going to sue her for?
Chapter 4 A Deliberation
Why does Cecilia send for Mortimer?
What preparations does Cecilia make for moving?
What does Cecilia write to Mr. Compton Delvile?
Chapter 5 A Decision
How does Mr. Delvile respond to Cecilia's letter?
Why doesn't Cecilia sue Mr. Eggleston?
What does Cecilia decide to do?
How do the servants respond to this news?
How do the poor of the neighborhood respond?
Who does Cecilia turn to for advice in going abroad?
Chapter 6 A Prating
What is Belfield now doing for a living?
Why didn't he continue being a writer?
Why do the others leave Belfield and Cecilia alone?
Why does Delvile think Cecilia has come to London?
Chapter 7 A Pursuit
Why won't Mr. Delvile let Cecilia in?
Why won't the coachman pursue Delvile?
Why won't Mr. Simpkins pay the coachman?
What happens to Cecilia?
Why does she have a relapse?
Chapter 8 An Encounter
How is Cecilia discovered?
What symptoms of madness does Cecilia exhibit?
Chapter 9 A Tribute
What effect does the sight of Cecilia have upon Mr. Delvile?
What effect do you think Burney wanted the scenes with Henrietta and Albany have upon the
Chapter 10 A Termination
What does the title mean?
Why does Mr. Delvile let Cecilia come to his house?
What truths about women's condition are spoken by Lady Honoria?
Why can Cecilia start up her charity again?
What happens to Henrietta Belfield? to Mrs. Harrel? to Mr. Arnott? to Mr. Belfield? Mr.
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