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"A Moral Tale"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The Deerfield, Massachusetts, Social Library owned all three volumes of Moral Tales, a series of plays and stories published in London in 1800. This first volume included an English translation of "The Shepherdess of the Alps," a French play written in 1766. The play tells the tragic story of a forbidden love affair between two young French aristocrats. The decision by Adelaide and her lover, the Count D'Orestan, to run away together over the objections of their families leads to D'Orestan's death. A grief-stricken Adelaide digs her lover's grave with her bare hands, renounces the world and becomes a poor shepherdess. She at last finds happiness after she reveals her true identity to a French nobleman (also disguised as a simple shepherd). The exotic Alpine setting and romantic interludes appealed to youthful readers. In addition, the heroine of this "moral tale" modeled the feminine behavior and virtues American society believed women could and should attain.
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