Elizabeth Inchbald's Role in Eighteenth-Century Dialogic: the Complex of Utterances in I'Ll Tell You What! and Everyone Has His Fault


Lora D. Head

Date of Graduation

Fall 1994


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

William Burling


Elizabeth Inchbald has long been assumed to hold the same radical, subversive position, in what M.M. Bakhtin calls the "dialogic," as her late eighteenth-century contemporaries Baillie, Wollstonecraft, and Edgeworth. This study will show that such assumptions about a radical role for Inchbald do not take into account the complexity of utterances in her writing. Two typical plays, I'll Tell You What (1785) and Everyone Has His Fault (1793), represent Inchbald's voices in the dialogic of eighteenth-century England. We will discern by examination of these plays that Inchbald's voice in the dialogic is a voice supporting limited freedom for women: freedom providing women an opportunity to make wise choices in husbands and to run a household, but would not offer women a place in which to household, but would not offer women a place in which to discuss and argue points of politics and philosophy in the style of coffee house and club spheres that contructed the public realm of thought throughout the late eighteenth century. Analysis of the female characters in the plays will demonstrate that Inchbald's role in the dialogic lies between the extremes of a supporter of traditional female roles and a radical mover for women's rights.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Lora D Head