Defying the "Salic Law of Wit": Satire by British Women Writers in the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century
|Keywords:||英國女性作家;諷刺文類;復辟時期及十八世紀英國文學(1660-1800);British women writers;British literature of the Restoration and the 18th;satire||Issue Date:||2004||Abstract:||null
This M.A. thesis investigates satire written by British women writers in the Restoration and the eighteenth century. Satire is a prominent genre in this period, but the traditional criticism and theory on satire appear to focus almost exclusively on male satirists. It seems that satire is a “masculine” genre dominated by male writers, and that women writers seldom write in this genre. However, through my survey on women writers in this period, I find that Augustan women did produce a large number of satires in different forms and that they wrote satire with considerable skills.
Chapter one of this study reviews the theories and criticism on satire in general, focusing on the important topics of satire such as its etymological definitions, its origins in primitive magical rituals and curses, its relation to genre, its nature and mechanism, its structures and satiric devices such as “satiric spectrum,” persona, irony, parody, etc., and also controversial issues in Augustan defence of satire.
Chapter two establishes the basic approach underlying the present study, contending that female satirists are not non-existent but only neglected both by their contemporaries and by modern scholarship. In this chapter I address issues such as similarities between satire and women writers, female satirist’s motivation and purpose in writing satire, difficulties facing Augustan female satirists, as well as how women writers manage to write satire in face of malignant opposition.
Chapters three to five explore satiric works by women writers in this period. Chapter three first investigates women’s contribution to the late seventeenth-century “satiric debate about women,” such as Sarah Fyge Egerton’s The Female Advocate (1686), “Eugenia’s” The Female Preacher (ca. 1699) and Lady Mary Chudleigh’s The Ladies Defence (1701). The chapter also discusses satiric poetry written by women poets, including Lady Mary Chudleigh, Anne Finch, Sarah Fyge Egerton, Elizabeth Thomas, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Sarah Dixon, Mary Leapor, Laetitia Pilkington, Esther Lewis, and Anna Laetitia Barbauld.
Chapter four focuses on satiric plays written by three prominent women playwrights, including Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), Delarivier Manley (1672-1724), and Susanna Centlivre (1669-1723). I examine Cavendish’s several comedies and tragedies, Manley’s heroic tragedy The Royal Mischief (1696) and comedy The Lost Lover (1696), and Centlivre’s comedy The Busie Body (1709).
Chapter five investigates the prose satires by women satirists in this period, including Delarivier Manley’s The New Atlantis (1709), Mary Davys’s Familiar Letters betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady (1725), Sarah Fielding’s The Adventures of David Simple (1744), Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote (1752), Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778), and Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800).
The conclusion stresses that women writers indeed contribute a great deal to the genre of satire and deserve a more prominent place in the satiric tradition. A thorough investigation of satire by women writers in all periods is certainly worthwhile and helpful in unraveling the relationship between satire and gender and in understanding the nature of satire in general.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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