Love Didn't Mean Much In The Seventeenth Century

1657 words - 7 pages

Faithfulness does not seem to be a common practice that men engage in during the English Restoration. In Some Reflections Upon Marriage Mary Astell purposes the idea that women should not marry and risk ending the human race until they are given the rights they deserve in marriage. Astell writes about the non-ideal way of how marriages were set up during her time. "The late seventeenth century's Mary Astell has been deemed by many present-day philosophers and historians to be the first female English feminist" (Bryson, 40). Astell points out that the marriages with money but no love led to the horrific life of a depressed wife and a life of lust for the husband with other woman. William Congreve shows an audience in 1700 during the premier of the play The Way of the World that a poor marriage leads to unfaithful lust outside of the marriage and those strict rules when inheritance and society are concerned led women to marry men they otherwise would not. Also, marriages stay together when they should be separated or never married at all. Astell's ideas are also portrayed in Samuel Pepys's Diary. Pepys constantly cheats on his wife. He eventually is caught cheating by his wife but he is mad when he realizes that he does not put her in her place. The Way of the World and The Diary shows the problems that Astell writes about. She speaks the truth which puts her ahead of her time but also shows that she is not marriage material because she might outsmart her husband. During the English Restoration, Mary Astell's piece Some Reflections Upon Marriage repeals the systematic way of marriage arrangements and advises woman to refrain from the contract until husband and wife are equal. William Congreve's play The Way of the World and Samuel Pepys The Diary shows that Astell's reflections on marriages are true and therefore, equality and consideration for each of the partner need to be accomplished for an ideal marriage to work.

Astell talks about the qualifications that a woman brings to the marriage. A man looks for how much money or land she will bring. In The Way of the World Mirabell is extremely interested in the nieces of Lady Wishfort because of the inheritance that they receive once married. At first Mirabell tries to marry the older sister of Millamant for the money but when that does not work out he begins to device a plan to marry Millamant. Once these women are married to the men "women were owned by their husbands as `property'" (Bryson, 41). The women lose their sense of being. They become property like material objects such as luxury houses and carriages. This is what Astell wants to prevent by having the women revolt against marriages. If the women were able to device a plan against marriages it would show their strength, "more heroic action than all the famous masculine heroes can boast of" (2284). Their plan would show that they are stronger than or as strong as the men and then their voices would be heard. ...

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