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Yet the critical lenses through which she views her subject matter suggest that the silence of slave voices what Toni Morrison would call an "Africanist presence" shapes the con- struction of middle- and upper-class white female identity in important ways. In addition to indicating the ways in which the seduction novels anticipate bur- geoning abolitionist and women's suffrage movements, Bontatibus's first chapter also speaks to an ongoing debate about the appropriateness of applying postcolo- nial theory to the intracultural oppressions of white Americans.
Bontatibus suggests that the experience of gender oppression in American may be "akin to the devalua- tion experienced by all those individuals in society who are relegated to the margins as Other" In fact, what makes her analysis particularly insightful is the unique duality of the protagonists' oppression. Middle- and upper-class white women were legally considered property, yet they benefited from a white supremacist, capitalist, heteropatriarchy in ways that permitted, even encouraged, their oppression of peo- ple of color.
While Bontatibus by no means resolves the postcolonial dispute, she illustrates here, and elsewhere, the ways in which postcolonial theory can inform critical analyses of American history and literature. Bontatibus argues, in "Declarations of Independence: Seduction and the Disenfranchised Woman," that the seduction novels instructed young women about the realities of their status as adults at a time when some priv- ileged women were apt to prematurely declare their independence from family.
Although a single white woman could rightftilly own property and earn a wage, she "had neither voice nor representation in a government that demanded she pay taxes and abide by the laws" The idea of voice and silence is crucial to understand- ing the neocolonialist conditions to which women were subjected. By marrying, and becoming a "feme covert," a woman's legal rights and public voice were subsumed by her husband.
In essence, the only independent choice women made was their choice of husband. In the case of Rowson's Mary Lumley, "Her only viable means of exercising authority over her life is to determine to which man she will give up her authority once she is married" Women are not only legally silenced by patriarchal institutions in the seduction novels, though.
Charlotte Temple is figuratively silenced when her letters to her family are stolen and destroyed by her seducer.
Throughout Charlotte Temple, Charlotte's voice is appropriated and her only means of communication is lost. Tenney's Dorcasina eventually resists her father's attempts to speak for her by decid- ing to marry the fortune hunter Patrick O'Connor. Dorcasina is labeled a "fallen woman" not because of her union with O'Connor but because she has radically asserted her voice in the matter.
Bontatibus contends that "a woman's declaration of independence in the face of patriarchal authority transforms her from a silent object to a speaking subject" In this chapter, the power to silence and the power to give voice to one's desires and concerns are played out in terms of the neo- colonial relationship between father and daughter as well as seducer and seduced.
Rhetorical and feminist critics may fmd the discursive reconstruction of the "fallen woman" of interest.
Bontatibus highlights the ways in which resistance to patriarchal authority contributed to broader reformation of feminine etiquette. In contrast to the vision of Republican motherhood into which they were indoctri- nated, the protagonists of these seduction novels represent women's desires to transgress the social and political constraints placed upon them.
He envisions his family's tears of joy at his return. What he gets though, is a house empty of anyone except a suspic OK well maybe not really 5 stars but it was a fun ride with humour, fun action, and romance What he gets though, is a house empty of anyone except a suspicious lady who claims to be married to him There are good reasons for this and that all gets dealt with easily, but also with a few good chuckles from the reader.
Now we have a couple who are married, yet strangers and alone together for the night until the rest of his family returns. Their truce devolves precipitously to him kicking her view spoiler [recently devirginized self hide spoiler ] out of the house without letting her get a word in edgewise. In "Intervening Before the Fall: Re-educating the 'American Fair,'" Bontatibus illustrates the numerous ways in which both the novels and their authors espouse the importance of education.
Some authors, such as Rowson and Foster, explicitly tailor their books to the educational needs of women, while others, like Murray, published political tracts echoing the themes embedded in their novels. All three authors stress the importance of self-understanding and a balanced education for "control of one's mind, body, and spirit" Their work reveals the emergence of an early and important feminist theme amidst the progressive individualist orientation of colonial America.
Like Rowson, Tenney prefaces Female Quixoticism with a letter that attests to the educational value of the novel. Unlike the other novelists, Tenney develops a protagonist who has benefited from "private instructors and an extensive family library" Intelligent, quick-witted, and altruistic, Dorcasina's seduction is as much her own calculation of her privileges as a member of the upper class and her constraints as a member of the female gender as it is a conquest by the "mischief loving scholar" Philander.
Bontatibus describes a scene in which Dorcasina contemplates marrying her suitor, Lysander, so that she may emancipate the slaves of his plantation. Access options available:. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.
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