Thank God for Mary Astell, for if he did not want her to speak, she would not have…

If God had not intended that women should use their reason, He would not have given them any, for He does nothing in vain.  – Mary Astell

This one quote from Mary Astell’s writing was enough to get me hooked. As I have said in previous blog I am naive when it comes to religion and sometimes quite weary of it, but I cannot help but enjoy Astell’s writing. They way in which she used her religious convictions to battle the negating towards women in religion and education leads are to believe Astell had a sensibility about her, and that she seems like a very reasonable person.

If somebody is born into a life style where they are taught their place is in the house how will they ever know any better there is something beyond the private life and this they type of argument Astell brought to the table. As a young women in university I feel I owe a lot to Mary Astell because she spoke out about women’s education and called for change and here I am in university getting an education that long ago was denied to women so thank you Mary Astell, thank you so much.   

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Red Rover, Red Rover Send Aphra Behn over….

The rover of the title is either Willmore, an exiled English sea captain on shore leave to enjoy the carnival, or Hellena, a young woman hoping to experience life and love before being committed to a convent by her brother. These two rovers meet and fall in love amid witty debates and sexual maneuvering. Willmore has many parallels to Charles II, whose exploits during his twenty-year banishment from England were well known. Charles II enjoyed the play so much that he commissioned a private viewing of it.  I will be completely honest about this play… I loved it so much.

 The way in which Behn uses rape to illustrate the double standard of  vulnerability of women in restoration drama,  and a revolt on Behn’s part against this over used tropes of violence towards women used as entertainment and the sole place for women at the time: in the covenant, the home or brothel.  I thoroughly enjoyed how the women in the play sought to find their own happiness, and even though it was in conventional places this happiness could be found, it was still a relief to see these character taking life by the horns rather than becoming pieces in a chessboard and pawns in the  I cannot find fault in Behn’s play really a few nitpicks but over all I loved this piece of literature, even though these strong female characters escape their unwanted futures into the arms of a man find it more  the fault of society in which Behn wrote and not Behn’s writing herself .

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Amen, for Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe

            Margery Kempe is a significant part of the women in writing narrative. Her writings provide one of the few autobiographical accounts of a women living in the medieval ages.  The Book of Margery Kempe is an account of her life of devotion to the church and religion. Shortly after the birth of her first child Kempe experienced what we would call today post-partum depression, but because back then they would have no knowledge of such thing Margery Kempe continued to suffer, at one point she was even locked in the cellar, eventually she had a vision of Jesus, and this vision would be the starting point of her devout life.

Of her writings I read for the class syllabus I found them very interesting. Usually when it comes to writings of a religious nature I am very naïve and not all interested, but the way in which Kempe craft the images of herself as a creature in one sentence but continues to paint herself as this religious woman is truly intriguing and worthwhile read.  Kempe is a woman who would keep up a vow of chastity and watch her husband has his head removed than give in to the wants of a violent man with a sword and allow her to partake in to unclean actions   shows her devotion to Jesus and religion.

Also it goes to show how well-spoken she was as she never wrote a word of the writing but rather has it scribed to another person to be written down, and what she spoke was to me dreary but beautiful in her honest emotion and love of religion.

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Dear Mr Powhele your Misogyny is Showing…. Thought you Might Like to Know

 I always found it interesting how men believe they can define what it means to be a woman, and not only what it means to be a woman but also the right and wrong way of being a woman.  I also find it fascinating that  in the two hundred plus years since “The Unsex’d Women” has been written nothing has really changed. The same sexist views of what makes a proper woman and what makes and unsex’d woman are still very much present in today’s world a person only need watch CNN to see that. But personal and political views aside I find that upon writing about these unsex’d women Richard Powhele is more concerned with the way Mary Wollsencraft and her cohorts lived than any thing they ever wrote. He explicitly make reference to their lives styles,Polwhele attacks these women not for what they are, but for what they are not:proper women. then have allowed their femininity to be dirtied by their radical views and in the process become unsex’d because nobody can define femininity like men and i right.

 

 

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All Hail Elizabeth

Upon first reading these poems by Elizabeth I won’t lie I had trouble understanding why she and her works would be on the reading list. She seemed to me to b writer of opportunity. These mostly brief, snippets of poetry seemed to be done wherever a though had struck her and hastily reordered whenever possible; sometimes that even meant carving it in a wall, or etching it with a diamond on a windowsill. I found her works enjoyable enough by I still pondered why in a course about women in writing we would study a women only wrote when inspiration struck; then it hit me. The exact same thing I was complaining about was the ideal reason to study her. Many of the women we have and will read poured heat and soul into their works and have garnered some lasting fame in the literary world  for that reason, and that is why studying someone who did this as a passing hobby in opinion would give such a unique perspective. With the works if Elizabeth the reader is given a unique perspective of a woman who doing this as fun almost. Unlike Margery Kempe or Julian of Norwich her works are not some recording of heavenly interventions or a life story but instead what I feel is poetry for the sake of poetry.  While I’m  there is some deeper meaning to this poems something I’m honestly still digging around for in these particular I glad that even at  the surface level I can appreciate Elizabeth for her etchings on the wall.

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Knights In Shining Amour…

And Why the Damsels are Sweeping Them off Their Feet

In reading Marie de France`s “Lanval“ I was greatly surprized at how quickly I lost interest in the titular character. Rather what kept my attention in the poem was the way in which France`s poem depicts women. In the portrayal of Lanval`s secret lover and the Queen I believe the feminine begins to reach a level of sexual awareness previously unseen in works of literature. I liked the fact that the women in the poem were sexual beings who did not just sit by passively to be given to some man as a prize.

The way in which the Lover choses to give herself to Lanval yet only under her own conditions is a far cry from the passive, demure ladies in waiting I normally associate with the time of King Authur. Even in today’s world some people still supress the idea of female sexuality and even the ability to be the dominant partner and have control of the it is a bit mind blowing to think Marie de France has written something like this at the time she was writing is almost mind blowing.

I am but a novice in the realm of courtly love so I will refer to a definition from fellow classmate Bryan’s blog “ In courtly love, it is generally the man who makes the first advances, but it is always the woman who has all of the power, the power to say Yes or No, and leave the man either in heavenly bliss or with hellish longing“ and this is exactly what I loved about this poem. They way in which it begins to subvert what was the norm of love at the time, and give more power to a woman than just a yes or no decision . When a women engages the courtship or she can hold all the cards in the relationship and is even able to without any  shame offer to “go all the way“ it puts a smile on my face knowing that it is not just a modern concept that women might just want sex and will pursue men for it rather than let it come to them  . In “Lanval“ I am happy to see the acknowledgment of female sexuality and can only hope we continue on this path of deconstruction of what a male made cannon tells us women should be like.

All The best,

Jaclyn F.

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