Domestic Scenes, or the Adventures of a Doll
This is a significant text as it enters directly into a conversation with canonical works of children’s literature from previous decades. The book’s opening lines reference works of a similar vein by Mary Anne Kilner and Dorothy Kilner (3), while the subtitle of the work also echoes such narratives. The narrator of this story, a doll, at first appears to signal a departure from the other ‘biographies’, in its association with girls’ play, rather than an item associated with work. The doll is sold into the Marsden family, and at first recounts instances of the carelessness of the Marsden children, and the boastfulness of her owner, Emily Marsden, in a manner typical of these object stories. However, the narrative soon takes an abrupt turn, as the story’s focus moves to two young girls in the rural community, Deborah and Rachel Mercator, from a Jewish family. Deborah and Rachel are being looked after by servants while their parents are absent attending to their business interests. When the Marsden children and other children from the neighbourhood organise a lottery for the relief of a group Irish hay-makers who were ill and ‘were not legally entitled to relief’(41), the Mercator girls cry at not having been included, and the doll is given to one of the Mercator girls in order to appease her (54). The doll is mistreated in her new home, but provides knowledge of the Mercator family, and describes how Rachel had been badly raised and without discipline: her mother had not treated her as ‘an immortal being; whose nature was corrupt, and whose will was in opposition to the divine will’, and as a consequence ‘Rachel grew up selfish, and tyrannical’ (82-3). Later in the text, Mr Mercator expresses his disappointment in his daughter, and seeks help from Colonel Marsden, who sympathises but goes on to convince him on matters of the ‘Christian faith’, connecting him with a man who explains the scriptures to him, where ‘Mr. Mercator was induced, to consider the Christian religion in a favourable point of view, from observing the striking difference, between the children of christian [sic] parents; and those of his own nation’ (129). The text reveals a final anti-Semitic element when the doll is snatched from the hands of Mary Slater by ‘a dirty jew boy’ [sic] and was brought to live in ‘receptacle of filth’ which ‘may be imagined, but cannot be described’ (132). The doll makes her way to a family in Norfolk who treat her suitably well but she is soon abandoned to a closet, where she begins to write her story (144).
Place of Publication:
Printed and sold by J. Dawson, And other Booksellers
Date of Publication:
147,  p. 14.0 cm.
Intertextual References, Dolls, Inanimate Object, Judaism, Anti-Semitism, Class, Christianity, Religion, Religious Conversion, Race, The ‘Other’, Gender
Pollard Collection - TCD