Restoration Period Study Guide

Here is my study guide for the Restoration Period, including class tweets and informative articles and images. I made it using Padlet.

 

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Restoration Period Padlet

Hey y’all!

As a Tweeter for this part of class, it was my job to put together a synthesized study guide of all the tweets from our discussions.

In making this, I really wanted to incorporate discussions about both the literature we read, but also the history we discussed. I made a timeline of both, literature below history, and aligned them so the reader would be able to focus on either history or literature, but still be able to view both and how they fill in with each other. For me, knowing the history of the time while I’m reading a text always helps me understand the piece better.

The timeline begins with my first tweet from class, featuring a very excited Jonah Hill, and moves into the branches. All the big events or when something was published are prefaced with the date, all of which are listed chronologically. From there, I attached more notes of the things we talked about the most in class discussions. Above the literature timeline is the history timeline, where I put in the dates and events that were going on in England that we talked about in class, from Charles II taking the throne in 1660 to the French Revolution erupting in 1789. I color coded things, history in red and literature in blue, for an easier read. I also connected the posts together, main event/publishing dates connected to each other, and each discussion point connected to the event/work they were about.

This Padlet (linked here) was a labor of love, and I hope you guys like it!

Humanism in Restoration Comedy

Refresher on Comedy of Manners and the link within The Country Wife

Image result for the country wife

 

In the story The Country Wife, we see plenty of examples within the text and the personalities of the characters we meet that are resembling a direct focus on the ideas of Humanism, a major theory of thought at the time this play is set. Humanism, in simple terms, is the philosophical idea of human behavior being a result of emphasizing human needs rather than the work of a divine or supernatural force. We see a lot of things within this play, but where exactly do we see this link between humanism and the characters that make the story? Where do these characters prove that their actions are to benefit themselves rather than to please God? A simple answer to that is; everywhere.

In the beginning of the play, the first characters we meet are Horner and The Quack, who are discussing the genius of Horner’s new plan. He has faked a surgery that went wrong, leaving him impotent, simply because he wants to sleep with the wives of the surrounding characters. With him being considered impotent in the eyes of the men, they will not see him as a threat, but more as a helper. Someone who can do the things with the women they do not want to do. In the very beginning, Horner is talking to Sir Jasper immediately after his conversation with The Quack.

 

“Sir Jaspar: Won’t you be acquainted with her Sir? (Aside.) So the report is true, I find by his aversion to the Sex; but I’ll play the wag with him. (Aloud) Pray salute my Wife, Sir.

Horner: I will kiss no Man.s Wife for him, Sir. I have taken my eternal leave of the Sex already, Sir.”

(The Country Wife Act 1, Scene 1)

 

What we are seeing here is the first example of a situation being created to benefit Horner and his desires, while disregarding his reputation in the eyes of God. In the story of Adam and Eve, death is called upon when the two decide to lie to God and follow the words of the serpent. Because of this, lying becomes a sin and is therefore displeasing in the eyes of the Lord. With this time in history being influenced by social standings and economical class, it was normal for people to present themselves in ways that pleased the others around them. Reputation relied, and still does rely,  heavily on behavior. Religion was still a major social belief and society was framed around the belief of higher powers, in most cases in history. What Horner was doing when he created this lie for the benefit of his own sexual desires was fall into his first example of Sin. His lies straight from the beginning of the play show us that this story isn’t going to follow a traditional frame of society, but an exaggerated one that  proves that personal desires overcome God’s desires and how a higher power would want you to behave.

It’s not just the men, however, that follow this frame of humanistic desire. We see plenty of examples within the women of this play that also show us that society as a whole, both male and female, have these same desires and will act upon them if they are safe from the judgements of society rather than the judgements of divine beings. In Act 4, Scene 3, otherwise known as the ‘China Scene’, we get a very in depth glance at yet another Sin being committed here by Horner and Lady Fidget, this time in the category of Lust and even Greed.

 

“Horner: If you talk a word more of your Honor, you’ll make me incapable to wrong it.

 

Lady Fidget: But you can’t blame a Lady of my reputation to be chary.

 

Horner: Chary—I have been chary of it already, by the report I have caused of myself.

 

Lady Fidget: Ay, but if you should ever let other women know that dear secret, it would come out. Nay, you must have a great care of your conduct, for my acquaintance are so censorious and detracting that perhaps they’ll talk to the prejudice of my Honor.

 

Horner: Nay Madam, rather than they shall prejudice your Honor, I’ll prejudice theirs. And to serve you, I’ll lie with them all, make the secret their own, and then they’ll keep it.

 

Lady Fidget: A secret is better kept, I hope, by a single person than a multitude, therefore pray do not trust anybody else with it, dear, dear Mr. Horner. (Embracing him.) (The Country Wife, Act 4 Scene 3)

 

Here, we are seeing the beginning of what becomes the scene that had this play banned from the stage for hundreds of years. When Lady Fidget states she is chary, she is talking about her worry of her reputation being ruined for her desire to sleep with Horner. They continue going on, talking about the fact that if too many people learn of Horner’s lie, then word will get out to the husbands. Lady Fidget continues to express the fact that she believes it is a secret best kept between them rather than having Horner sleep with all of the women in an attempt to make this secret something they all must hold because of their unfaithful behaviors. After this, Sir Jasper walks in, Lady Fidget lies, and then in the room over Horner and Lady Fidget have sex as they explain they are “searching for China.” Though it is more exciting seeing the text of the actual scene itself, that is not the point here. The point is that Lady Fidget as well as Horner go to great lengths to defend this secret and still engage in the desires they hope to fulfill. Horner has succumbed to Greed as he sleeps with people’s wives for his own benefit. They both lie compulsively to keep the secret going. And they prove that the only thing holding them back, especially in Lady Fidget’s position, is the possibility of their reputations in society being jeopardized. Not once do they reference their reputations in the eyes of a divine power, because deep down they are absent minded to the idea that these actions could affect the way they view religion and their beliefs.

So with that being said, it’s interesting to see the ideas these characters have. In a time of Protestant and Catholic uprising, they only define their roles in the world based on their reputation from other everyday people. This entire story, though a Comedy of Manners, is still viewed directly from a Humanistic approach and puts into perspective the failed ability to place personal desire beneath their outwards seeming beliefs they preach to society.

 

Sources:

  • The Country Wife. William Wycherley. 1675. Play.
  • Wycherley, The Country Wife Introduction. The Virginia Anthology. Article.

 

A Modest Accusal

Jay Swift

Jonathan Swift by Francis Bindon (Website here).

Our class’ unit on the Restoration period partially focused on the theme of oppression in Ireland. The essay that we read by author and Irish citizen Jonathan Swift, “A modest Proposal”, explained the various ways in which the people in Ireland had been oppressed leading up to the essay’s release date in 1729. At the time, England was a country that was in control of Ireland and King Henry VII had reclaimed the country under its control back in the 1500s’. By the time the 1700’s had come, all of the political and economic control in Ireland had shifted over from the people of Ireland to English politicians and Irish politicians who were only Protestant. One of the leading factors for this change in power was King Henry VII’s break from the Catholic Church back in the 1500s’ as a way of divorcing his wife. With this, many Catholics became oppressed to the incoming Protestant religion that soon dominated. One of England’s main goals began to be to oppress the Catholics in Ireland, and Catholicism was the dominant religion in the country at that time.

As a result, Irish Catholics were no longer able to hold political office, own land, have a political vote, and they were forced out of business. All of these things went directly to the British colonizers and Protestants. The people of Ireland still had pride for their country and wanted to fight these problems that plagued them. The satirical proposal that was written by Jonathan Swift not only critiqued British colonizers for their oppressive activities, but also provided a thorough explanation for Ireland’s exploited government and economy.

The streets of Ireland were filthy, crowded with beggars and thieves; and people both young and old were fighting against simple starvation. Mothers who’d just recently given birth stood in the dirty streets with one hand out begging, while holding a newborn in the other. The opening of the essay depicts the poverty that plagued people in Ireland who’d lost much of what they had to the colonizers, “It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms” (Swift 141). Many of the children Swift was talking about didn’t end up staying in the country, and usually ended up somewhere where the Catholic religion wasn’t oppressed so they could find work, “helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes” (Swift 141). The overcrowding pushed the oppression of Irish people further, making it more difficult to find food and providing a breeding ground for disease.

Swift then jumped into his main argument for the essay, which he began with cannibalism as a solution to the increasing number of infants in Ireland. Of course Swift was joking about this stance and was actually leading readers right into his real proposal. The argument to eat and sell the babies of Ireland was the beginning of Swift’s use of the literary device of satire, in which he tried to actually correct the vices made by the British colonizers, “ I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food” (Swift 142). This becomes the comedic intro to Swift’s real solutions to Ireland’s poverty, but also the intro to his way of explaining why Ireland was facing these issues in the first place.

Swift talks about the real problems that Ireland faced near the end of his proposal when he satirically provides actual solutions for his people. In doing this though, Swift is actually providing an explanation for Ireland’s poverty and why such a proposal would need to be written in the first place. The colonization that occurred was a direct attack on Irish Catholics, and a move to push them out of the country. Many examples included high taxes, the import of goods rather than production within the country and “merciless landlords” who take everything from their tenants. While providing solutions for Ireland, what Swift truly does is explain the implications that led so many Irish to become poor, “Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants” (Swift 146).

So rather than just being a solution for the people of Ireland, this essay pointed a finger at the colonizers. He then ended his argument with more satire, saying that he didn’t want to hear from anyone about these problems again unless they’re ready to fight against them with full enthusiasm, “Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ‘till he hath at least some glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice” (Swift 146). Here’s an introduction written by David Cody of Hartwick College on how more than providing just a proposal, Swift calls out the wrongdoings of British colonizers in general!

It wasn’t until the 1790s’ that the people of Ireland were persuaded by the French revolution to act on the oppression of their country. This stand against the British colonizers revealed that one of the leading factors that had kept the country divided for so long was a difference in religion between the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. Once the United Irishmen began to take a stand, the unity of religions proved to be a tremendous strength to the country’s push for freedom and rights.

This leads me to critique Swift’s essay in that he should have provided the idea of unity despite a difference of religion, as one of his many solutions to fight the colonizers. This became a very effective tactic for the Irish who were finally rewarded the Catholic relief act in 1793, and eventually started an uprising at the start of the Romantic period.

Sources:

Revenge Poetry

Ever just written a poem out of revenge? Lady Mary Wortley Montagu sure has.

brit lit pic 3

That’s the face of a woman who isn’t having any of men’s shit. The Reasons that Induced Dr. S. to write a Poem called The Lady’s Dressing Room was written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1734, during the Restoration Period. Lady Montagu was a feminist aristocrat whose majority of works were written to challenge the views and attitudes directed toward women. This poem was written as a response to Dr. Jonathon Swift’s poem, The Lady’s Dressing Room, supposedly as a backstory for why he wrote his poem. Dr. Swift’s poem is about a man walking into a lady’s dressing room and shattering the male constructed image of women as ethereal beings, declaring them disgusting. Rather than simply satirical, Lady Montagu felt that Dr. Swift’s poem was misogynistic and shed women in a bad light. Which is how she came to write The Reasons that Induced Dr. S. to write a Poem called “The Lady’s Dressing Room”.

This poem is about Dr. Swift and his experience of meeting with a prostitute and paying for her services for him to ultimately be unable to “perform”. After blaming her for his lack of erection, he demands his money back but she refuses to return the money, in turn blaming his old age instead. He declared getting vengeance for this but the prostitute had the last say, with Lady Montagu referring to his slanderous poem.

What was meant to be a satirical take on men’s expectations of women turned into a literary war between two writers. Rather than focus on the topic of hygiene of women, Lady Montagu attacks Dr. Swift’s capabilities in sex resulting in why he must have written the poem.

brit lit pic 2

This poem has great examples of sexism because of how Dr. Swift addresses the prostitute, Betty. The main theme that Lady Montagu intends to address throughout this poem is the misogyny from men and the rise of feminism.

Lady Montagu describes Dr. Swift’s arrival and encounter with Betty as a man with high expectations. She begins his journey to Betty with words and phrases of confidence and allure to describe Dr. Swift. At his arrival she wrote, “The destined offering now he brought,/And in a paradise of thought,/With a low bow approached the dame,/Who smiling heard him preach his flame.” (lines 21-24). With the words “paradise of thought”, Dr. Swift is imagining their approaching “union”. The use of velvety words such as “destined”, “paradise”, “dame”, “smiling”, and “flame” allow for him to be looking at the situation with the male constructed view of women. Similarly, in a quote right after, “And then, returend with blushing grace,/Expects the doctor’s warm embrace.” (lines 29-30), soft and velvety phrases like “blushing grace” and “warm embrace” portrays a graceful woman who can have no faults. The clear dichotomy is that men are driven and confident while women are passive and sexual beings.

After a long digression talking about the authority of different standings, making an allusion to the ranks between men and women, Lady Montagu continues with the tale.

Dr. Swift is ready to do the deed with Betty, except he realizes that he can’t get it up, if you catch my drift. This is really emphasized in the lines, “The reverend lover with surprise/Peeps in her bubbies, and her eyes,/And kisses both, and tries—and tries.” (lines 63-65). The use of punctuation and repetition surrounding the word “tries” brings that idea forward. He then blames this lack of pleasure on the prostitute, “He swore, “The fault is not in me./Your damned close stool so near my nose,/Your dirty smock, and stinking toes/Would make a Hercules as tame/As any beau that you can name.”” (lines 69-73). This is where Lady Montagu brings the center of his poem to light in her poem. He blames her lack of private femininity, or publicly displaying her “damned close stool”, “dirty smock”, and “stinking toes”, for his incapability of getting it up. Her argument is that Dr. Swift’s shortcomings stem from his sexual frustrations. With Dr. Swift’s character using Hercules as a comparison, he shows arrogance as he is giving him that high value of a God. The lines basically state that her disgusting habits would make even a God tame, just as another other man. Even though he isn’t calling himself a God or even putting himself on a similar level as God, his usage sounds like “God would be disgusted and as am I” which indirectly puts Dr. Swift with some superiority. This coincides with the idea of men having dominance over women.

The first line of the next stanza, “The nymph grown furious roared” (73), is interesting because the literal translation of the word “nymph” is “a beautiful, young woman”. But immediately after she uses the words “furious” and “roared” which aren’t very nymph-like. At least, roaring isn’t. Just as Dr. Swift’s expectation of women being beautiful 24/7 vs the true reality of women behind the scenes, the quality of the term “nymph” (simply being beautiful) is contrasted with the quality of the phrase “furious roared” (showing real emotions and reactions).

Lady Montagu continues the poem with, “By God/The blame lies all in sixty odd,”/And scornful pointing to the door/Cried, “Fumbler, see my face no more.”/”With all my heart I’ll go away,/But nothing done, I’ll nothing pay./Give back the money.” “How,” cried she,/”Would you palm such a cheat on me!/For poor four pound to roar and bellow–/Why sure you want some new Prunella?”/”I’ll be revenged, you saucy quean”/(Replies the disappointed Dean)/”I’ll so describe your dressing room/The very Irish shall not come.”/She answered short, “I’m glad you’ll write./You’ll furnish paper when I shite.”” (lines 73-89). The prostitute blames Dr. Swift for his lack of pleasure, saying that it’s no wonder as he’s sixty years old. She is adamant that she shouldn’t have to return the money. As punishment for refusing to return the money, the Dr. Swift character threatens to announce the disastrous state of her dressing room, tying it back to his actual poem, The Lady’s Dressing Room, addressing her filthy and unhygienic dressing room. She comes back with a great response, saying she’ll wipe her shit with whatever he writes. This is an especially great comeback due to his written disbelief that women are nasty enough to poop. So not only did she insult his writing and give him no satisfaction in revealing her filthy habits (that are only natural) to the world, but she addressed his original poem that spoke about all the nasty habits he doesn’t believe women actually have. But I digress.

Lady Montagu’s response to The Lady’s Dressing Room is superior than the original pem by Dr. Swift. His poem is misogynistic because it discusses the seemingly disturbing things that women do to get ready. He observes it to be disgusting and basically gives the idea that women should be elegant and polished 24/7 which is absolutely ridiculous. Lady Montagu’s response to the poem in The Reasons that Induced Dr. S. to write a Poem called The Lady’s Dressing Room was a feminist response. Rather than only addressing the hygiene issue that Dr. Swift brought up, Lady Montagu shed light on his sexual inadequacy being the reason he is so critical and pessimistic. But she also turned it around to tie in the woman hygiene issue.

Lady Montagu used her writing to direct a movement of realizing women’s true values by writing the satire The Reasons that Induced Dr. S. to write a Poem called The Lady’s Dressing Room.

brit lit 4

Works Cited

Course Packet

Spencer Beck. “THE MISOGYNY OF JONATHAN SWIFT & THE FEMINIST RESPONSE OF LADY MARY MONTAGU”. WordPress.com. 25 Feb, 2014. britlitsurvey2.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/the-misogyny-of-jonathan-swift-the-feminist-response-of-lady-mary-montagu/

http://www.taketheleadwomen.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Sense-of-humor.jpg

http://www.muslimheritage.com/article/lady-montagu-and-introduction-smallpox-inoculation-england

 

End Poverty, Eat the Children!

 

Never trust a King to solve your nation’s problems. That’s exactly what happened to Ireland when King Henry II, who was supposed to help the internal issues of Ireland, but instead decided that he would invade the country. The invasion would cause a long battle to ensue between the two nations, one who was power hungry, and the other who only sought independence. King Henry II with the help of Pope Adrian IV (only English Pope), was deemed as the “Lord of Ireland” (“The History of Ireland”).  Thus, starting England’s control over the nation and causing Ireland to become poor stricken under the rule of the British Empire.

The overpopulation of poor children in poverty-stricken Ireland is the “issue” in the satirical essay, A Modest Proposal, written by Dr. Jonathan Swift. Ireland, already facing a crisis with the invasion of England, and the devastating famine,  also faced a problem with the crippling population of children from the poor people (mostly the women beggars) within the country, Swift states:

“It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in our country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms” (Swift, 1729).

Ireland

The line that is the most notable is the emphasis of the sex of the beggars, instead of simply stating that there are beggars among the streets, Swift makes the conscious decision to note their gender, as if saying that, that is perhaps the reason behind their unfortunate livelihoods. One can argue that this is a clear insult to women and our “inferior” sex to men. The result of the beggars being women is that of an overpopulation of poor children, which to Swift is a nuisance to their country, and that is the reasoning behind his proposal of how to relieve Ireland of the stress of all those poor beggar children. The solution Swift says was brought about to him by an American acquaintance that he met in London:

“I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in  fricasie, or ragoust” (Swift, 1729 ).

As we had discussed in class the possible reason as to why Swift, clarifies that it was an American that gave and encouraged the idea of eating the children was due to the belief that many of the American colonists resorted to cannibalism due to starvation, and lack of resources. We had also briefly discussed the colony of Roanoke, and cannibalism being a possible reason for the unknown disappearances of the people from the said colony. By using the children as a mean to not only bring food to the people of Ireland but also as a way to bring an end to the country’s poverty. Most of the country’s wealth was swept away by the increase in British rule.

Especially since most Irishmen and women were Catholic, they no longer had any power due to the religious take over of the Protestant. As in an article written by Laura Leddy Turner, The Life of Poor Irish in the 1700s, Protestant English landowners became middle class in the 1700s, while the Irish Catholics delved deeper into poverty. England had claimed Ireland’s land as it’s own, forcing the Irish people into a state is desperation. As the satire draws closer to the end, it becomes evident that Swift is clearly stating a metaphorical f-you to Britain, as the English landowners where economically bleeding the Irish dry, Swift states, “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children” (Swift, 1729).

By saying that Swift is stating that the landlords aka the British have already eaten the parents of the children, so it’s only fitting that they have “the best title to the children” as if the children were a part of their property instead of being human. Which all throughout the essay, Swift compares the Irish to cattle, due to the way the British treated them as such. Swift starts the essay off as if the overpopulation of children is the problem within the country, but in fact, the underlying problem is clearly expressed as the British control over Ireland which causes the country’s poverty.

“I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have sincere gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor cloaths to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of intailing the like, or greater miseries, upon their breed for ever” (Swift, 1729).

It is with this paragraph at the end of Swift’s essay, that we are confronted with the meaning behind his modest proposal. He asks the politicians to question the people of Ireland. Inquiring if they would have rather been eaten at the tender age of a year, or to grow and experience the misfortunes that have been forced upon them by the British, and still inevitably be involved in the misery of the Irish people. Nonetheless,  the effect of this passage brings the reader to an understanding of what the Irish were put through because of Britain, how they were oppressed because of the British Crown, and treated like that of nothing more than cattle.

Works Cited

Text Source:

Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal”. 1729

Article:

https://classroom.synonym.com/life-poor-irish-1700s-13171.html 

Turner, Laura Leddy. “The Life of Poor Irish in the 1700s.” Synonym, classroom.synonym.com/life-poor-irish-1700s-13171.html.

Image:

https://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/a-sexual-revolution-in-the-west-of-ireland/

Class Material:

Ireland’s Colonial History

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ireland