In Eliza Haywood’s The City Jilt, the reader witnesses the main character Glicera transform from an innocent young lover to an avaricious and vengeful woman. The major circumstances causing these changes in Glicera can be traced around her acquisition or yearning for money. Early in the novella, she is heart-broken and deceived by her first love Melladore, and later allows herself to be courted by an older gentleman named Grubguard. Glicera misleads Grubguard to the point of absurdity to achieve her monetary and vengeful goals, culminating with the acquirement of Melladore’s mortgage. After she obtains the mortgage, she tells Grubguard, “I rais’d thy hopes to make thy Fall from them at once more shocking, and receiv’d thy Presents by way of Payment, for the pains I have taken to reform thee…” (Haywood 100). Here Glicera’s sense of entitlement is exposed, as she defends receiving Grubguard’s “Presents,” despite accepting them under false pretences. The author’s selection of the word of “shocking” indicates the extreme malevolence Glicera has projected onto Grubguard. Glicera feels no remorse for the appalling way she has treated Grubguard, and indeed displaces her intense abhorrence from Melladore to him. The “pains” Glicera mentions are ironic to the reader because she has done nothing without her own self-serving interests in mind, and the reformation of Grubguard has served only for the amusement of herself and her servant, Laphelia.
Glicera’s wish for the “Fall” of Grubgard is strikingly parallel and reminiscent of her own tragedy earlier in the novella. When Glicera’s father dies and she loses her perceived inheritance, “she regarded not this Fall from her high-rais’d Hopes, nor once imagined that the Loss of her Wealth would also make her lose his [Melladore’s] Heart” (Haywood 69). For Glicera, this “Fall” from wealth changes her position in life, her monetary stability and her desirability as a wife. Both Glicera and Grubguard are similar in that these disgraces both arise from losing wealth, but Grubguard’s defeat is ultimately caused by his own shortsightedness in giving Melladore’s mortgage to Glicera. Glicera’s “Fall” is caused by events outside of her control, though instead of learning from her misfortune, she facilitates the same tragedy for Grubguard. Both characters are connected by this “Fall” from their own expectations for future happiness and luxuries directly dependent on personal wealth.
Haywood, Eliza. “The City Jilt.” Three Novellas. Ed. Earla A. Wilputte. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1995. 65-103. Print.