Intellectual Rules: The Extraordinary Ordinary Belinda

  • Deborah WeissEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


This chapter argues that Edgeworth’s creation of Belinda should be understood as a direct attempt to rehabilitate the idea of the female philosopher in the aftermath of the Wollstonecraft scandal and in the midst of a culture that was rapidly becoming hostile to female intellectualism. Edgeworth allows Belinda, her true female philosopher, to tangle successfully with Harriet Freke, the false figure, and thus simultaneously to disarm the anti-Jacobin anxiety about the philosophical woman and counter Wollstonecraft’s own approach to gender and social change. With Wollstonecraft’s revolutionary feminism dispatched along with contemporary anti-feminist, anti-Jacobin anxieties, Edgeworth frees the female philosopher from the specter of revolution and sexual transgression, making her into an everywoman figure, capable of using her mental and moral intelligence to find personal happiness, promote progress, and further the common good.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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