Abstract

A miller had wooed abundance of girls, and did lie with them, upon which he refused to marry them. But one girl he did solicit very much, but all would not do. Then he married her, and told her on the marriage-night, if she would have let him do as the rest did he would never have had her.

‘By my troth, I thought so’, says she, ‘for I was served so by half a dozen before.’1

Keywords

Permeability Hull Defend Stake Heroine 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cited in Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford, Women in Early Modern England 1550–1720 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 120.Google Scholar
  2. John Wardroper in Jest upon Jest (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970) gives the source as Oxford Jests, fifth edition, 1684 (compiled by Captain William Hicks), though identifies an earlier version in Wits, Fittes and Fancies, 1595 (Wardroper p. 163).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Like Clare Brant and Diane Purkiss in Women, Texts and Histories 1575–1760 (London: Methuen, 1992), our concern is not to produce an account ‘intended to be synecdochal of a complete narrative’ (p. 6), but rather to contribute to the debates about women’s agency as represented in fiction.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jonathan Goldberg, Desiring Women Writing: English Renaissance Examples (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1997), p. 12.Google Scholar
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    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 1999), p. xxix.Google Scholar
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    Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 2.Google Scholar
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    Louis Montrose, The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the Cultural Politics of the Elizabethan Theatre (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), pp. 1, 3.Google Scholar
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    Dennis Kay, ‘“She Was a Queen, and Therefore Beautiful”: Sidney, His Mother, and Queen Elizabeth’, Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 43, No. 169 (February, 1992), p. 20.Google Scholar
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    Suzanne W. Hull, Chaste, Silent and Obedient: English Books for Women 1475–1640 (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1982).Google Scholar
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    See for example, Christina Luckyj, ‘A Moving Rhetoric’: Gender and Silence in Early Modern England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  11. The reappraisal of notions of passivity, in men and women, is examined in Scott Paul Gordon’s The Power of the Passive Self in English Literature 1640–1770 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Gervase Markham, The English Housewife, ed. Michael R. Best (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1986), pp. xxvii, xxviii. It must be acknowledged here that this activity is still located within a predominantly domestic sphere, rather than the world at large, but the distinction between public and private, domestic and politic, is often harder to sustain than it might seem. And anyway, the argument that women could be active only in the domestic sphere is part of a trivialization of women’s work that is endemic in patriarchal society.Google Scholar
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    Frank Whigham, Ambition and Privilege: The Social Tropes of Elizabethan Courtesy Theory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 33.Google Scholar
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    Shoemaker, p. 61. Humoral theory could also be invoked as the physiological basis of chastity. According to Valerie Wayne in ‘Advice for Women from Mothers and Patriarchs’ (in Women and Literature in Britain, 1500–1700, ed. Helen Wilcox [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996]), Dorothy Leigh’s The Mother’s Blessing, one of the most popular ‘mother’s books’ in the seventeenth century with 16 editions between 1616 and 1674, argues along with many other writers that ‘“God hath given a cold and temperate disposition” to women — cold and moist, as opposed to hot and dry — so that they would incorporate [the virtue of chastity]’ (p. 67).Google Scholar
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    Ilza Veith, Hysteria, quoted in Marlene LeGates, ‘The Cult of Womanhood in Eighteenth-Century Thought’, Eighteenth-Century Studies 10:1 (1976): 22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ed. James Kinsey and Frank W. Bradbrook (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 3, hereafter cited parenthetically (P&P). The example of Pride and Prejudice — and, indeed, of Clarissa — reminds us that, whatever the explanatory power of social theories, in practice they tend to be provisionally entertained rather than believed in implicitly, and are invoked, or not, as circumstances require. Mr Bennet clearly does not have a lot of time for Mrs Bennet’s nerves or the consideration she expects shown to them, and while Lovelace claims to be expecting rather than merely hoping that Clarissa will fall pregnant (‘it will be very surprising to me if it do not happen’), he seems prepared to overlook the implication that ‘to have a young Lovelace by such an angel’ would prove Clarissa less than angel — the ostensible agenda behind the trials to which he subjects her (Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, ed. Angus Ross [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985], p. 1147).Google Scholar
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    Fletcher, pp. 378–82. Ingrid Tague, in Women of Quality: Accepting and Contesting Ideals of Femininity in England, 1690–1760 (Rochester: Boydell, 2002), also observes that ‘although there had been didactic works written for and about women prior to this time, most of them dealt with particular areas of female conduct — advice for princesses and nuns, for example — rather than trying to create a complete woman, as was the goal of the later manuals. Moreover, they were rare in comparison to the numbers produced in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.Google Scholar
  22. One of the more popular early seventeenth-century works, Richard Brathwait’s English Gentlewoman (1631), appeared in three editions by its last printing in 1652.Google Scholar
  23. Compare this with Richard Allestree’s Ladies Calling (1673), which went through 12 editions by 1727, and which — in another eight editions from 1696 to 1737 — was also revised and published under the title of The Whole Duty of a Woman’ (p. 23).Google Scholar
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  30. As Hubert McDermott notes in Novel and Romance: The Odyssey to Tom Jones (Houndmills: Macmillan, 1989): Allowing for exceptions at individual points in individual stories, the Greek romance follows a well-defined pattern. A young couple fall in love, and are prevented from consummating their love. This ‘prevention’ usually takes the form of physical separation, as they travel about the world facing one danger after another, until they are reunited, return home, are married, and live happily ever after. There are numerous incidents which recur with boring regularity in the romances — shipwrecks; capture by pirates; narrow escapes from death, rape and seduction; trial scenes; reunions; and sensational recognitions. Despite the obsessive preoccupation with chastity, … it soon becomes obvious that chastity in the Greek romances means regard for the concept rather than practice of virtue, (p. 27) Doody refers to the Greek romances, along with all other fictional narratives, as novels, which at least has the virtue of reminding us that, whatever the differences in the way we go about telling stories, we keep telling much the same kinds of stories — a point that did not escape Mrs Barbauld in 1804 when she observed that ‘If we were to search among the treasures of ancient literature for fictions similar to the modern novel, we should find none more nearly resembling it than Theagenes and Chariclea, the production of Heliodorus’ (The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. Anna Laetitia Barbauld, 6 volumes [1804; rpt. New York, AMS Press, 1966], p. xi).Google Scholar
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    A. J. Smith (ed.), John Donne: The Complete English Poems (London: Penguin, 1987), p. 358. In New Arcadia this scene is also associated with another watery incident where a prince is aroused by the sight of the water running around his naked lover’s body, which leads to his lengthy and phallic song, ‘What tongue can her perfections tell, / In whose each part all pens may dwell’ (pp. 287–91), which again sees female beauty primarily as the source of male creativity.Google Scholar
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    Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 22, hereafter cited parenthetically (FQ). There are, of course, earlier examples of foolish women misinterpreting what they see, such as Robert Anton’s Fairy Queen in Moriomachia (1613), who tries to milk a bull, and then in response to his ‘strange and unusual courtesy’ decides ‘to have him transformed into the habit and shape of a man’ (Short Fiction of the Seventeenth Century, ed. Charles C. Mish [New York: New York University Press, 1963], p. 49). While this can be seen as a ‘parody of chivalric romance’ (p. 45), it does not have the focus on the understandings of the female protagonist that is the concern of The Female Quixote.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Marea Mitchell and Dianne Osland 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marea Mitchell
  • Dianne Osland

There are no affiliations available

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