Jan 19 2012
Montagu “Letter to Lady Bute” & “Epitaph”
Female education was mostly based on superficial education systems.
Even young, fashionable ladies got sent to “finishing school” which gave you all the tools to be
successful in a fashionable society.
Any progressive feminism has to work in the darkness – the irony used matches with working from the
margins of the darkness, to have a cover.
Letter to Lady Bute
The Image of the closeted female subject.
She is discussing how a young daughter should be education – it ends up sounding quite conventional &
sounds like a male author could have written it ..
Page 27 (2578) –
“Thus every woman endeavors to breed her daughter ... will never appear .. Learning ... happy in it ..
amused with an author in her closet”
- Recapitulating the virgin/whore dichotomy
- Education will be good for her if she becomes an avid reader, and be less a social butterfly than
- It is OK that she read if she stays closeted
“time is not so precious .. more hours to spare.. agreeably employed..”
- Want to read some irony in it
- She is not saying it is a shame that women don’t pursue professions, she is saying it as a fact, not
- She won’t get up to no good
She has no problem with her granddaughter not marrying – she is careful to say that if she won’t marry,
she must stay a virgin, read books, and stay closeted & confined. The female space looks very much like
you either marry, become a fallen woman, or you stay the virginal character as a nun.
If she stays virginal then society with accept her, but an unmarried woman of a certain age who isn’t
closeted, will automatically be a fallen woman.
The spinster character can’t be a career woman as it is not available – so this tradition says she will
remain a spinster she has to be in a space like a nunnery.
Many of those women would pursue a career in modern society.
Society at this time has a difficult time understanding a woman who circulates in society that is
unmarried – she would seem unfeminine, and the author says they should be kicked down the stairs
because they are useless.
There ARE women who did this, like Aphra Behn – she published playwright work in the theatre & was a
spy for the British government. She represents a woman who was able to operate outside those bounds.
She had to keep moving – or else she would be subject to their surveillance and control of a patriarchal
society. In 18 C England – it only ever had one really big city – London was way out of proportion with little in
the way of other cities competing. People piled into London – part of it was this new sense of freedom it
While women had to stay closeted, a lot could run away and go to the big city of London and circulate in
1. Women are defined by the policing of virginity which takes on a spatial dimension;
2. Women who are not in their “proper place” are