In her 1804 La Duchesse de la Vallière, Genlis and Opie, in her 1805 Adeline Mowbray portray the fallen woman. In each novel, the heroine’s fall leads her to condemn herself in an exceptional way because this distinguishes her from women like her and isolates her from a world that would integrate her. In seeking to singularize themselves through their active, willful self-repudiation, la Vallière and Adeline reveal an ambitious wish to be publicly recognized as individuals. Yet by casting their heroines’ singularity in terms of self-castigation, Genlis and Opie portray female ambition in a paradoxical fashion.

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