Essays from a Literature Major
The Coquette: Ideology of a Virtuous Woman
Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette, published in 1797, is based on a true story of a socially elite New England woman, Elisabeth Whitman, who after giving birth to a stillborn, illegitimate child at a roadside motel died under an assumed name. Foster uses epistolary exchanges in The Coquette to allow an intimate view into character’s thoughts, establishing how the societal limitations placed on a woman may allow her to be manipulated by her desires, just as Whitman may have been. The debate about the role women ought to play in society has been ongoing throughout history.
Feminine Agency in Anne Radcliffe's The Italian
There is never more of an advantage as a writer in creating an authentic female character than being a female yourself. Ann Radcliffe’s women in The Italian are distinctly female in the individual agency they embrace and it remains fluid throughout the story. These women are afforded a natural adjustment of agency in a manner reflective of changes within their environment....The fact that Radcliffe is a female writer who lived in the patriarchal society of the eighteenth century, she is able to truly reveal her concerns by allowing the characters to achieve agency in a fictitious parallel world.
Liberalized Sexuality in Aphra Behn’s The Rover
To be the only woman in a room filled with men basically parallels Aphra Behn’s career as a female writer during the Restoration period in England. She maintains a remarkable feminine influence within the history of theater with sixteen of her twenty plays performed, which is far more than most of her male contemporaries. And because this was a male dominated career, Behn was particularly dedicated to exploring and expressing the social and sexual desires of women through her writing whether it was in plays, poems, or prose.
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: The Socially Conditioned Rake
From a literary standpoint, it is a necessity to designate a name for a group of individuals by creating a list of standard characteristics in which to categorize them. According to Henry Blyth, author of The Rakes, there are standard elements that make one qualify as a rake, aside from the dictionary’s immoral man of fashion...The interesting aspect of creating this set of standards to qualify the group is having enough characteristics listed to maintain the criteria. A reader of the Restoration culture may be left with few who are not potential rakes when reviewing the list Blyth has generated for the circumstances that lead to their creation.