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Lecture 4

Week 4: Belle's Strategem

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Terry Robinson

ENG307 WEEK 4B 10/3/12 TO Frances-Arabella Kelly (Barber) -AGISM: looking down on older unmarried women (no more coquette + power through coquetry) -Coquette = modern “bachelorette”; a single woman who’s still on the market; though she exercises choice, can constantly shop around for men, society still has a bit of “derision” towards her: she’s seen as shallow, vain -Libertine = modern “Bachelor”; is celebrated for both the mystery and independence of being alone, but able to search (and be glorified for playing around, for being a stud, etc.) Teft: On Viewing Herself in a Glass -after her 20s, a woman was in danger of “being an old maid” -seen as burden to her family; she couldn’t get a job so had to be taken care of -flirtatiousness of coquette gave way to “VOLUNTARY SUBMISSION” (eg. Sex = “duty” not desire for proper woman) -while a coquette could shop a long time, society still pressured her to choose why? 1) culture favours the young (clock is ticking) 2) short life expectancy (about 37 years); in 1831, increased to 39 years (lower) + 50 yrs (aristocrats) 3) therefore must maximize potential for childbearing -no marriage = failure HANNAH COWLEY th -one of foremost playwrights of late 28 c. -composed 10 comedies, 2 tragedies, farce, 4 volumes of poetry in only 2 decades -The BELLE’S STRATEGEM = one of most celebrated dramas of its time; became mainstay in 19 c. Victorian theatre -because widowed early on, had to raise children all on own -> v. prolific THE BELLE’S STRATEGEM -LETITIA’S scheme: get Doricourt to marry her: make him fall in love with her, but he’s indifferent at first -> will first get him to hate her, then seduce him to hate her, -why would he not like her? -she’s not as exotic / vivacious as he’d like -Her performances: 1) early on: performs ideal English beauty role; best gowns, air of modesty 2) acts stupid 3) shows wit -DORICOURT: 24 years old just returned from Grand Tour -scene 1: arrives with caskets of exotic, rich clothing -wants a witty, zesty woman; bc there are many women who are beautiful, a special woman has real brains -in this context, marriage is a CONTRACT -> a business set between their fathers, as a means to join family estates -legacy + inheritance -by unmasking Doricourt’s misunderstandings of her, she EXPOSES his naivety despite his status as “man of the world” -see p. 242-245 -BELLE’S STRATAGEM has 2 stories: 1`) Letitia seducing Doricourt 2) Touchwood + Frances’ marriage problems -Touchwood used to be a social bachelor, didn’t really respect women; then after marriage becomes prudish + controlling -exasperated at society -terrified of being a cuckold; even scared of Doricou
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