In her novels and didactic writing Maria Edgeworth links moral and financial credit in an attempt to turn a traditional idea of the corporate personality of the family into the foundation of commercial agency in a credit economy. Rejecting the individual as incapable of surviving in a credit-based market, Edgeworth's novels about the marriage market are fantasies of the larger marketplace, attempts to shape the kind of person required by England's credit-based market. The "charm of probability" with which Edgeworth enchanted her reviewers was both a formal device of realism and the foundation of the informal credit economy that she inhabited and advertised. Edgeworth's emphasis on rationality and predictability, however, excludes the irrationality inherent to consumer desire, one basis of the market itself. In Belinda, therefore, Edgeworth splits the commercial world into two separate and radically contradictory systems of representation-realist and Gothic. The marketplace is a benign and rational place governed by Adam Smith's laws, rules of probable behavior that are both moral and economic, and, at the same time, it is a realm of improbable behavior and insatiable consumer desires that are depicted through the conventions of the Gothic.
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