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Montagu & Epitaph

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Lakehead University
Rachel Warburton

Jan 19 2012 English 3838 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 her mother - 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 ironically - 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 offered. While women had to stay closeted, a lot could run away and go to the big city of London and circulate in that anonymity. Female enclosure: 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
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