Rowlandson and Violence

I was surprised by how graphic depictions of violence were in Rowlandson's captivity narrative, especially given how much we have talked about people becoming disgruntled about sexual references in the plays that we have been reading. Did people dislike Rowlandson's work because of the graphic violence? Was violence not as important so censor as sexual references? Did the historicity of this narrative excuse it from calls for censorship? Was the expectation about what writers were allowed to say about violence different for men and women in the same way as men and women were expected to talk about sex differently?

Carleton's scandal

In comparison with Haywood's Love in Excess, Carleton's writing seems far more scandalous because it contains supposedly real stories. I wonder if it would have been considered "trashy" as Love in Excess originally was. I also wonder how people would have responded to the potential reality of the piece-- I know that people valued reality but would this have been seen as reportive or more like an autobiographical tabloid? Also, although it is a defense against horrible accusations, I wonder what prompted her to write publically in the face of so much scrutiny. I also wonder how much people believed it and how she either benefitted or suffered as a consequence.

Historically accurate?

    I'm curious if scholars have any way to know how accurate Mary Rowlandson's account of being captured by Native Americans really is. Presumably the events that she recounts actually took place, but the narrative is colored so distinctly by the English's dislike of the Indians (which I suppose is natural considering the circumstances) that I imagine it might be hard to separate truth from elaborative fiction. It seems plausible that many of the situations Rowlandson recollects are exaggerated by her preexisting mistrust of the natives. In light of this known racism, how should one approach Mary Rowlandson's text? Should we consider it a historical document or is it better thought of as a piece of literature, valued for the prose rather than the validity of the content?

Observations and Questions about Carleton

When reading the excerpt from Mary Carleton, I was very interested by a section on the last page in which she said:

"The fashions and customs here are much different from those of our Country, where the wife shares and equal portion with her husband in all things of weal and woe, and can liber intentare, begin and commence, and finish a suit in her own name; they buy and fell, and keep accounts, manage the affairs of houshold, and the Trade, and do all things relating to their severall stations and degrees. I have heard and did believe the Proverb, That England was a Heaven for women: but I never saw that Heaven described in its proper termes: for as to as much as I see of it, 'tis a very long prospect, and almost disappears to view; It is to be enjoyed but at second hand, and all by the husbands title."

Of the women we have read this semester, few have so blatantly criticized the limitations placed on women, and I cannot remember any other women comparing England to other countries. I was especially intrigued by the idea that people called England a "heaven for women." Was this based on the idea that certain upper class women could live luxurious lives, cared for by their husbands?

I also wondered at Carleton's reliability, as she wrote this piece right after she was caught in a major lie. Was she trying to justify her actions by saying that she would not have needed to lie in such a way if women were considered equals? Would other women have supported these views or dismissed them because of Carleton's ruined reputation?


'twas no wonder that the violence of such terrible emotions kept her from regarding the discourses of those stood by her, or the devoirs that D'elmont made as he passed by, and at length threw her into a swoon

-- Eliza Haywood, Love in Excess

I am struck by how physical the effects of these emotions are. Actually fainting because of how jealous you are is pretty intense. On the one hand, I recognize that this is pretty sensationalist literature and so such things will naturally be intense. On the other, I keep remembering what I read about the spleen to contextualize Anne Finch's poem, about how women were considered fragile and especially susceptible to melancholy. Was the expectation of the time that women were fragile to emotions in general, and somehow especially liable to fall victim to their own internal wars?

for all those who don't read the Love in Excess excerpt

Here is a little summary that I found and used in my original notes on Love in Excess from the GALE series:
“centers on the amorous adventures of two brothers, with a neighboring baronet and his sister drawn in during the second volume as an added complication. The eldest brother, Count d’Elmont, returns to Paris after two years spent in a military career and is immediately besieged by various young women. Unattracted by marriage, he sets out to seduce Amena Sanseverin, thus provoking the jealousy of Alovisa who has already sent him a series of anonymous billets-doux. Amena then sends word to the count hat she has been forbidden to see him and that night he steals into the garden, releases her from the room, and together they go off to the Tuileries, where he soon demands proof of her affection.”

The point I wish to make here, is that, this summary (which relates basically to all of the first volume, excluding a little bit about the way that Amena ends up locked away and Alovsia ends up in a poor relationship with d'Elmont) sums up the first volume at least according to the summaries I've read (I haven't read the whole volume). What is interesting about this is that almost everything in this description happens in the first 7 pages- the pages I selected for reading. It is interesting to consider the "predictability" then of the plot or even the idea of "plot" itself... perhaps these circumstances were less predictable in Haywood's time as she helped to found the novel or perhaps people read more for the prose than for the plot development (surely setting out most of the plot in the first seven pages is uncommon in today's novels.)

Eliza Haywood

Portrait of Eliza Haywood (

Anne Finch and Milton

Hey guys, last class a mention a poem that Finch wrote in regards to Milton, and I just wanted to post it so everyone could read it.  It's called "Fanscomb Barn: In Imitation of Milton":

In Fanscomb Barn (who knows not Fanscomb Barn?)
Seated between the sides of rising Hills,
Whose airy Tops o'erlook the Gallick Seas,

Whilst, gentle Stower, thy Waters near them flow,
To beautify the Seats that crown thy Banks.
                 In this Retreat
Through Ages pass'd consign'd for Harbour meet,
And Place of sweet Repose to Wand'rers poor,
The weary Strolepedon felt that Ease,
Which many a dangerous Borough had deny'd
To him, and his Budgeta lov'd Compeer;
Nor Food was wanting to the happy Pair,
Who with meek Aspect, and precarious Tone,
Well suited to their Hunger and Degree,
Had mov'd the Hearts of hospitable Dames,
To furnish such Repast as Nature crav'd.
Whilst more to please the swarthy Bowl appears,
Replete with Liquor, globulous to fight,
And threat'ning Inundation o'er the Brim;
Yet, ere it to the longing Lips was rais'd
Of him who held it at its due Desert,
And more than all entreated Bounty priz'd,
Into the strong Profundity he throws

The floating Healths of Females, blith and young,
Who there had rendezvouz'd in past Delight,
And to stol'n Plenty added clamorous Mirth,
With Song and Dance, and every jovial Prank
Befitting buxom Crew, untied by Forms:
Whilst kind Budgeta nam'd such sturdy Youths,
As next into her tender Thoughts revolv'd,
And now were straggling East, and West, and South,
Hoof-beating, and at large, as Chance directs,
Still shifting Paths, lest Men (tho' stil'd of Peace)
Should urge their calmer Thoughts to Iron War,
Or force them to promote coercive Laws,
Beating that Hemp which oft entraps their Lives;
Or into Cordage pleated, and amass'd,
Deprives unruly Flesh of tempting Skin.
Thus kind Remembrance brought the Absent near
And hasten'd the Return of either's Pledge:
Brown were the Toasts, but not unsav'ry found
To Fancies clear'd by Exercise and Air,
Which the spirituous Nectar still improves,

And gliding now thro' every cherish'd Vein,
New Warmth diffus'd, new Cogitations bred,
With Self-conceit of Person, and of Parts.
When Strolepedon (late distorted Wight,
Limb-wanting to the View, and all mis-shap'd)
Permits a pinion'd Arm to fill the Sleeve,
Erst pendant, void, and waving with the Wind,
The Timber-Leg obsequiously withdraws,
And gives to that of Bone Precedence due.
Thus undisguis'd that Form again he wears,
Which Damsel fond had drawn from houshold Toils,
And strict Behests of Parents, old and scorn'd;
Whilst farther yet his Intellects confess
The bouzy Spell dilated and inhans'd,
Ripe for Description, and sett Turns of Speech,
Which to Conjugal Spouse were thus addrest.
My Wife (acknowledg'd such thro' maunding Tribes,
As long as mutual Love, the only Law,

Of Hedge or Barn, can bind our easy Faiths)
Be thou observant of thy Husband's Voice,
Sole Auditor of Flights and Figures bold;
Know, that the Valley which we hence descry
Richly adorn'd, is Fanscomb-Bottom call'd:
But whether from these Walls it takes the Name,
Or they from that, let Antiquaries tell,
And Men, well-read in Stories obsolete,
Whilst such Denomination either claims,
As speaks Affinity contiguous
Thence let thy scatter'd Sight, and oft-griev'd Smell
Engulf the Sweets, and Colours free dispos'd
To Flowers promiscuous, and redundant Plants.
And (if the drouzy Vapour will admit,
Which from the Bowl soon triumphs o'er thy Lidds,
And Thee the weaker Vessel still denotes)
With Looks erect observe the verdant Slope
Of graceful Hills, fertile in Bush and Brake,
Whose Height attain'd, th' expatiated Downs

Shall wider Scenes display of rural Glee;
Where banner'd Lords, and fair escutcheon'd Knights,
With gentle Squires, and the Staff-griping Clown,
Pursue the trembling Prey impetuous;
Which yet escaping, when the Night returns,
And downy Beds enfold their careless Limbs,
More wakeful Trundle (Knapsack-bearing Cur)
Follows the Scent untrac'd by nobler Hounds,
And brings to us the Fruit of all their Toil.

  Thus sung the Bard, whom potent Liquor rais'd,
Nor so contented, wish'd sublimer Aid.
Ye Wits! (he cry'd) ye Poets! (Loiterers vain,
Who like to us, in Idleness and Want
Consume fantastick Hours) hither repair,
And tell to list'ning Mendicants the Cause
Of Wonders, here observ'd but not discuss'd:

Where, the White Sparrow never soil'd her Plumes,
    Nor the dull Russet cloaths the Snowy Mouse.
To Helicon you might the Spring compare,
That flows near Pickersdane renowned Stream,
Which, for Disport and Play, the Youths frequent,
Who, train'd in Learned School of ancient Wye,
First at this Fount suck in the Muses Lore,
When mixt with Product of the Indian Cane,
They drink delicious Draughts, and part inspir'd,
Fit for the Banks of Isis, or of Cham,
(For Cham, and Isis to the Bard were known,
A Servitor, when young in College-Hall,
Tho' vagrant Liberty he early chose,
Who yet, when Drunk, retain'd Poetick Phrase.)
Nor shou'd (quoth he) that Well, o'erhung with shade,
Amidst those neighb'ring Trees of dateless growth,
Be left unfathom'd by your nicer Skill

Who thence cou'd extricate a thousand Charms,
Or to oblivious Lethe might convert
The stagnant Waters of the sleepy Pool.
But most unhappy was that Morphean Sound
For lull'd Budgeta, who had long desir'd
Dismission fair from Tales, not throughly scann'd,
Thinking her Love a Sympathy confest,
When the Word Sleepy parted from his Lips,
Sunk affable and easy to that Rest,
Which Straw affords to Minds, unvex'd with Cares.

Modern Female Playwrights

One of my other classes recently discussed this article, and I thought it was relevant to today's topics as well.

This article seems to suggest that it was easier for women to be accepted into certain areas of the arts -- novels, poetry, etc. -- than in others, namely theater.  If this is true, what makes theater so different and so inherently "male"?

surprising initial reversal


I'm posting before I've finished reading Pix's first act because I am immediately surprised by the content. As a woman writer, she does not seem to support a community of women writers or extend the idea that many women have talent. Did she perhaps find most women writers to be untalented? Did she want to be recognized as a standout? 

When first the speaker of the prologue declares, "No Bawdy, this can't be a Women's Play. Nay, I confess there's Cause enough to doubt, But Faith they say there was a deal cut out"and then, early on in the first act, Sir Fr says of Sir Charles, "I dare ?wear he’d willingly give a Leg or an Arm to be freed from the intolerable Plague of a Wife, whom no Mortal can plea?e" the play reverses the expectations I had based on previous plays we've read. Perhaps the portion I hilighted in the prologue parallels the usual apologetic excuse offered by women in the preface; however, it is uncommon that prefatory material from outside sources does anything but praise the authors/ writing. (Obviously this does not praise women's writing as it suggests that all women's writing is overly bawdy and that this piece was overly bawdy until someone edited it.) The second quote I hilighted directly reverses the content of most women's writing that we've read this semester by suggesting that men don't want to be married because they can't please their wives. Previously, we've seen that women don't want to be married because it forces them to obey extensive rules laid out by their husbands--we have never read of a woman who asks too much of her husband. (Of course this may be due to the fact that we read from a woman's behalf but still, we haven't really read of any woman asking anything of a husband!)

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