Lovel brings to the novel, which is the male dichotomy when dealing with social etiquette. While the two bicker, they reveal how important it is for men to behave in a certain manner.
The Captain's response to the entire event also brings our attention to the importance of male social behavior in the novel. Men, too, must be aware of how to behave in social situations and clearly, Mr. Lovel sees himself above most etiquette. If we look at the Captain's remarks, we find how significant it is for men to establish themselves socially because Lovel's comeback reinforces how men will use social activities to display their manhood. When the two go at it, there is no mention of women in their exchange; therefore, we see how very little women matter when it comes down to it. Mr. Ben is a man, according to the Captain, and later he declares that there "i'n't so much as one public place, besides the play-house, where a man, that's to say, a man who is a man, ought not to be ashamed to shew his face" (Burley 193). There is no mention or consideration for women in this remark and this is certainly part of the accepted societal norms of the day.
His second fault is that he cannot see how pretentious he is when he makes such an admission. Kenneth Moler observes that Mr. Lovel is a "vicious socialite" (Moler 173) and Mr. Lovel's snobbery seems to cross gender lines as he is portrayed as the biggest fool in the novel. As previously mentioned, Mr. Lovel has already demonstrated that he is, at best, shallow with his remarks regarding the theater and his reasons for attending. He cares not who is acting but rather who is attending the performance - an attribute that indicates the most shallow of human beings. With the overarching theme is behavior in social circles and with the character of Mr. Lovel, Burney is extending the role of the pretentious fool to include men. At a time when women were seen as inferior to men and expected to behave certain ways, we rarely think of men in circumstances that embarrass themselves. Certainly, we would expect Evelina, a young and innocent woman to make social faux pas but Mr. Lovel is neither innocent nor very young and his mistakes are of the worst kind because he thinks he is being coy and clever. With him, Burney illustrates how pretension knows no gender boundaries and class is something that belongs to the respectable.
According to Joanne Cutting-Gray, the novel portrays a "public sphere in which no one really knows what to say about all the culture that surrounds them. Among both the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy, culture seems, at best, a diversion, at worst a place of inane discourse" (Cutting-Gray). This is best displayed with Mr. Lovel, who has his priorities misaligned. This terrible faux pas on his part works to our entertainment. The part of the fool becomes obvious with the scene involving the monkey. Newton maintains that while we might not always like it, we must acknowledge male authority. Newton maintains that the scene with the monkey is a "pointed lesson in its proper valuation" (Newton). The stronger of the two emerges victorious while the weaker looks more foolish than he could ever have dreamed. The scene puts Mr. Lovel in his place but out heroine feels pity for the "egregious fop, had committed no offence that merited such chastisement" (Burney 699). The fool remains a fool. Susan Staves observes, "Burney must have enjoyed inventing his monkey parody of Mr. Lovel" (Staves 15) and we must agree. It is the perfect conclusion to our relationship with this man that has not changed one bit throughout the course of the novel. Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of Mr. Lovel's role in the novel is to advance the notion that gender is not a critical factor when it comes to arrogance and pretentiousness in a person's character. Mr. Lovel is the fool of the novel and it seems only fitting that he is played the fool without his knowledge - as that is the role of the fool. Mr. Lovel is the worst kind of fool in that he is never fully aware of this fact.
Evelina; or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World allows us to look into one of the most interesting characters of her time - the pretentious man that has no clue about how foolish he looks. Mr. Lovel offers insight into humanity in that we discover that these types of people never go away and they never seem to evolve out of their current state. Mr. Lovel provides us a comedic look at how foolish men can be at a time when women and their behavior seem to be scrutinized. He is the man that becomes the fool while our heroine moves on to better things in life. Evelina has something to which she can look forward while mr. Lovel only has his vain nature to keep him company. In the end, he has less grace and charm that our ill-mannered protagonist and everyone can see it but him. The role of Mr. Lovel balances the playing field and, as a result become the most valuable player.
Burney, Frances. Evelina; or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World. Girlebooks Publications. 1778.
Glock, Waldo. Appearance and Reality: The Education of Evelina. Essays in Literature. JSTOR Resource Database.
Cutting-Gray, Joanne. "Evelina: Writing between Experience and Innocence. Woman as 'Nobody' and the Novels of Fanny Burney." University Press of Florida. 1992. EBSCO Resource Database. Information Retrieved November 17, 2008. http://search.epnet.com
Newton, Judith. "Evelina: Or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the Marriage Market." Modern Language Studies. 1976. JSTOR Resource Database. Information Retrieved November 16, 2008. http://jstor.org
Staves, Susan. "Evelina; or, Female Difficulties." Modern Philology. 1976. JSTOR Resource Database. Information Retrieved November 18, 2008. http://jstor.org