Back to Children's Moral Instruction
and School Story
Befuddled: Why Sir Peabody, what are these pages here?
Peabody: One of our Patrons has requested a copy of The History of Master Jacky
and Miss Harriet4 to be printed and bound for his son.
Befuddled: What type of story is that?
it be at all suited for my son Thomas?
Peabody: Well, Madame, The History of Master Jack and Miss Harriet is actually a
series of stories. It is for the
most part, what many of us would call, a school story, however is brightly
highlighted with allegory.
Befuddled: School Story?! Why,
those schools may give a boy connections and lead him into the world early, but
theyíre filled with more mischief than benefit. Iím not sure Iíd want my son Thomas to be reading any
stories dealing with schools; itís probably filled solely with mischief.5
allegory, Iíve heard it does nothing but create a fantastical mind. I wish Thomas to have nothing of the sort.
Peabody: Dear Lady Befuddled, you have walked into a shop undividedly aimed at
improvement. The utter thought that
I would recommend a unruly book is offending.
However, I will excuse this offence in light of your Ladyís obvious
ignorance on the matter.
see, a school story is designed to encourage a child to learn.
The scenes are often set in school houses or around issues involving
school, such as studying or discipline. Pure
allegorical stories involve worlds of fantasy with such mystical beings as
witches or goblins. School stories
often use hints of allegory, but not to the extent of a pure allegorical tale. Unlike an allegorical tale, school stories are always set in
the real world. It is usually only
the character names that are allegorical. For
example, a character might be named Miss Lovegood or Sir Fairjudge.
Sometimes though a school story might include additional elements of
allegory. Take this garden scene on page 14 of The History of Master
Jacky and Miss Harriot. The
rest of this chapter is set in a realistic world, but for one moment a mystical
element reveals itself. Of course,
the mystical element is completely didactic. In
this passage Master Jacky and his cousin Tommy have learned the importance of
hard work and diligence and the folly of vice.
stories demonstrate to children the benefits of staying in school and studying
hard. Showing students that each
individual is responsible for determining his own future and that a right
education increases happiness. In
school stories a strong education is powerful, at times outweighing birth right.
A poor boy can rise above the class he was born into if only he is
studious and virtuous.
Befuddled: But Sir Peabody, I do not mean to question your knowledge and wisdom,
seeing as your so learned in books and these matters, however I have seen many a
young woman or man ruined by having the same hope which you just now described.
Even if a person has a grand education, it is not always
possible to rise. It seems to me awful
misleading to give children such false hope.
Sir Peabody: Madame, it may be false for some, but Ďtis not for the exercisers of true diligence.