Monday, December 05, 2005

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

This has been wonderful everyone! I really enjoyed all of your comments and this has been fun after all:)
See you later!

To me, fair friend, you can never be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed
Such seems your beauty still
~Will Shakespeare

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

From Thoughtless to Thinker

Eliza Haywood

Miss Betsy Thoughtless

Haywood engages us in a deeply character driven narrative through which we become better aquainted with the issues of marriage, and the destructive nature of abusive relationships that women often face. Miss Flora is a similar character to Fantomina in that she sports a diguise to obtain the affection of Mr. Trueworth, and like Fantomina has her heart broken in the end. There is immense pressure placed upon Betsy to marry for wealth and social stature, and Betsy shows us through various relationships with the men in her life that women were expected to accept their husband's actions under all circumstances and to not protest. Adultery and abuse reoccur throughout the course of the text, and point to a need for equality to be established between spouses before a marraige can be stable and emotionally satisfying for both individuals. When Betsy finds out that Munden has cheated on her with her brother's mistress, she stands up for herself and as a female reader I find myself saying "finally!" and applauding her bravery. Miss Betsy Thoughtless ends up being very conscious of what is taking place around her, and Eliza Haywood emphasizes the need for not what society sets as virtuous ideals, such as marrying not for love but for monetary gain, but for the personal virtue that Betsy finds within herself in the realization that she too can have a voice. Betsy's trickery and taunting ways when it comes to men are criticized by Haywood in much the same way as Fantomina. Betsy's character evolution from thoughtless tease to thoughtful wife show that she is not thoughtless at all, and is rather a woman who is very aware of her surroundings and is indeed thinking of her own happiness.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Curiousity Killed the Cat


Eliza Haywood shows us the frustration felt by "proper" women, who had to sacrifice their urges and conduct themselves in an appropriate fashion. Fantomina goes against her expectations and at first dresses up as a whore merely to "gratif[y] an innocent Curiousity". As readers, we identify with Fantomina's character, for desire and passion are inherent human emotions that women in the past, and even in the present day, are expected to control more so than their male counterparts. Fantomina represents the frustration in all of us, the need for attention and love, albeit she goes about it in the wrong way. The feelings that Fantomina finds herself experiencing towards Mr. Beauplaisir are described as unnatural: "Strange and unaccountable were the Whimsies she was possess'd of, — wild and incoherent her Desires". This shows us the depth of her social expectations as a proper woman, for even Fantomina herself is unnacustomed to such desire and is in awe of her own passion. Both Fantomina and Beauplaisir are uncomfortable with the arrangement when he believes her to be a whore, and they are both described as being afraid of the unfamillair and anti-social relationship: "He believ'd her a Mistress, but believ'd her to be one of a superior Rank, and began to imagine the Possession of her would be much more Expensive than at first he had expected". Fantomina is afraid as well, "She fearful, — confus'd, altogether unprepar'd to resist in such Encounters, and rendered more so, by the extreme Liking she had to him”, although not in quite the same way as her beloved. This points to the oddity of the situation in which Fantomina finds herself emmersed in. As the story progresses, Fantomina finds herself acting in much the same way as the players in the playhouse she frequently visits in order to seduce Beausplaisir. She uses diguise to allow herself to become active, but in the end Haywood points to both the risks and benefits of doing so. Fantomina's story is ultimately a tragic one, as Eliza Haywood highlights the consequences that arise when sex roles are transgressed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Spread the Word!

Next week my group for Gender Studies 2001 will be holding an information table outside of Chris Doran's presentation about the Montreal Massacre at 7:00pm Thursday, November 24th, where he will be talking about violence towards women. We will be distributing flyers to advertise our weblog, and will have pamphlets and other interesting items and information handy for anyone who is interested in finding out or helping out with an important cause. Hope to see you there!
Check out the site, its awesome and we are recieving some great feedback so far!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Another "Scribling Woman"

Francis Burney

A Known Scribler

Through the various literary genres expressed in Burney's text, we see the changes occurring thoughout the literary social sphere during the Eighteenth century. A known "diarist", Burney's accounts of her life as a writer are fascinating, however, we must take into account the pressures she was facing and the way in which her writing was influenced by her societal constraints. One must be suspicious when reading any of the early texts we have read, for each of these works reiterate the same issues that women were faced with throughout history, especially those resulting from gender discrimination. Thus, many females' texts avoid telling the whole truth because they could not speak their minds outside of the constraints that the patriarchy of the literary sphere forced upon them, as Burney's account reveals. Burney tends to write from a very personal perspective, and often about herself. Her life is described as "exatraordinary" in an online biography of Burney (http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/litlinks/fiction/burney.htm), because she survived a mastectomy without being under anesthesia (*ouch*), and searched through the battlefields in France in 1815 to find her husband. Burney is a woman who deifed social expectations and proves that woman stand on equal ground with men, physically, morally and intellectually. An interesting description of Burney in A known Scribler comes from John Wilson Croker of the Quarterley Review in April 1814. He states that "None of our female novelists ever attained so high a reputation as Miss Burney" (310), and in response to her works criticizes her as being overly "self-convicted of being", and what the painters call a "mannerist; that is, she has given over painting from the life, and has employed herself in copying from her own copies" (310). He continues to criticize Burney from a patriarchal position, mocking her attempts at understanding politics: "she did not see, good lady, that this disclaiming note was the most severe satire against her imperial protector..." (312). This is just one of the many examples throughout this text of the unavoidable opposition female writers were up against every time they put a pen to paper.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On the Outside Looking In

Alexander Pope

The Dunciad
Alexander Pope's deformed body and the fact that he was Catholic in a Protestant England worldplays a huge factor in his views towards women. He speaks of women poets not in terms of their writing, but of their sexuality. Women are not even dignified in terms of their writing under Pope and Swift, instead they are degraded and labelled "scribbling women". Eliza Haywood is described as having "cow-like udders" and "ox-like eyes". It is very hard for a modern woman to read such misogyny without feeling anger towards Pope. However, he is a sympathetic character due to the fact he has been placed in his "outside looking in" position by his society. He reduces women to the same position, when one would think he would be more sympathetic towards women because they are similarly ostracized by society. Emily Beyea's seminar gives us a more balanced sense of Pope, for if you can get past the bitterness of his work you can come to see the wit and personal aspects of his poetry. Pope relies heavily on insults in his poems, but as we have seen before, this is a typical convention in the early literary sphere.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Woman's Passion

The Adventures of Rivella

From the very first page of The Adventures of Rivella, Delarivier Manley sets the tone for her narrative when she says, "if she had been a man, she had been without fault" (Manley 47). Manley challenges the traditional sumptions that feminine writing can be equated with being a whore. The narration of the story is ambiguous for we are forced to take Lovemore's account of Rivella's actions as truth. D'Aumont questions Lovemore as to whether or not Rivella has "wit in her conversation as well as her pen?" (Manley 48). Her pen is also described on the first page as being able to "love". Manley satirizes the common way of thinking a woman's external and physical beauty is a determining factor of her inner virtuous character when D'Aumont worries, "I hope there are no hideous vices in her mind, to deform the fair idea you have given me of fine hands and arms, a beautiful neck and breast, pretty feet, and I take it for granted limbs that make up the symmetry of the whole" (Manley 49). Rivella is by no means foolish in her actions. For example, she is "amazed at [Bella's] confidence, which she thought no way suitable to a maid" (Manley 97). Because this text is somewhat autobiographical, it is interesting to examine the way Manley may be using Rivella as a voice through which she can comment on her society from a safer distance than if she were to act in the same fashion as Rivella does. Manley is able to hide behind her fiction, and in the end her male charactes admire Rivella for her strength: "it would have been a fault in her, not to be faulty" (Manley 114). Manley prompts her male readers to feel the same by ending her text with this intriguing line. A woman's passion needs not to be constrained by her male counterparts, but rather let free. This is what is common amongst not only Manley's writing, but all of the women we have studied so far-their passions overflow their texts and this is what makes women such great writers.