A Creole Contagion: Narratives of Slavery and Tainted Wealth in Millenium Hall

Nicolle Jordan, University of Southern Mississippi
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring 2011), 57-70

This article begins by suggesting that Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall (1762), a utopian vision of women’s independence, invites not only feminist but also postcolonial interpretations. The presence of colonial wealth, though seemingly incidental in a work that focuses on charitable women, betrays an underlying anxiety about slave labor. Significantly, both the narrator and the women of Millenium Hall possess fortunes acquired in the New World. By tracing how such fortunes compromise the health of the men who earned them, this article argues that the novel offers evidence of Scott’s apprehension that colonial wealth may be deeply tainted and may even become a source of moral contagion and physical deterioration whose effects can be mitigated only by a process of inheritance and transmission. After analyzing the role of the creole narrator, the article suggests that because the novel links colonial wealth to moral contagion, the women’s putative moral superiority is cast in doubt.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]