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The Instability of Female Quixote

The Instability of Female Quixote

In “The Female Quixote,” the whimsical nature of fiction is not just a barrier to social acceptance, but an absurdity. Following popular notions of the time, fiction is presented as a diversion and an indulgence that cannot be reconciled with reality and threatens the reader’s perception of actual experience. The theme is common, as is evident through the basis of this novel, Cervantes’s “Don Quixote,” and other works such as “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen. The story is a series of examples of what not to do, acting as both a cautionary tale and conduct guide. But there is a fundamental instability in the work resulting from the opposition of the moral and the means in which it is presented. The intention of the work is to depict the error of confusing fiction for reality, yet does this through fiction. The reader is expected to believe in the validity of the story’s moral, which is not to believe in stories. A work that denies its own foundation cannot function, and this remains true for “The Female Quixote.”

But this contradiction can only exist if there is clearly an instructive message within it. In this novel, there is no question of the negative influence of romances, only how ridiculous it makes the main character, Arabella, seem. And just how irrational is she? For the vast majority of the plot, she believes she is living inside a classical romance novel rather than 18th century Britain. She mistakes the true intentions of almost every character she meets, transposing their equivalent in courtship stories such as Cassandra, Cleopatra, Artamenes, and Clelia onto their actual selves. Because she has no aesthetic distance from romance novels and sees the motivat…

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…other level of “The Female Quixote,” contradict. When the purpose rejects the basis on which it is built, the entire structure must collapse. Therefore, as entertaining as the work may be, it essentially fails through denying its own existence.

Works Cited

Lennox, Charlotte. Ed. Margaret Dalziel. “The Female Quixote or The Adventures of

Arabella.” Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1989.

Merleau-Ponty, M. Trans. Colin Smith. “Phenomenology of Perception.” Routledge

Free Essay on Milton’s Paradise Lost – Paradise Lost as an Epic

Paradise Lost as an Epic

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “cosmos” as “the world or universe as an ordered and harmonious system,” from the Greek, “kosmos,” referring to an ordered and/or ornamental thing. Though Pythagoras is credited with first using this term to describe the Universe, probably since he is also the one most commonly cited for ideas of harmony and the Musica Mundana, cosmos is generally a contrast to “chaos”-“the first state of the universe.” In explaining the theology and cosmology of Paradise Lost, Milton writes, “the heavens and earth/ Rose out of Chaos,” describing the move from the formless mass to the ordered whole. (I:9-10) As much as this delineates the structure of the world, however, its culmination seems to appear in the Spirit, as Milton has conceived it-the free, reasoning, integrated Consciousness. Though many have found a hero in the English epic from its dramatis personae-from Adam to Satan to God/Son himself-the most encompassing heroism seems that of Milton himself, as a manifestation of this most supreme of creations: the wholesome mind.

An instance in which Milton’s views on the sovereignty of the Spirit appear in some of the conversations of the Arch Fiend himself with his fellows-which is quite ironic, considering that the story is an extrapolation upon Christian Scripture. One of Satan’s “compeers” says, during a discussion after their exile from Heaven:

Too well I see and rue the dire event

That, with sad overthrow and foul defeat,

Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host

In horrible destruction laid thus low,

As far as Gods and heavenly Essences

Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains

Invincible, and vigour soon returns,

Though all our glory extinct, and happy state

Here swallowed up in endless misery (I:135-140).

The invincibility of “the mind and spirit” is something which even the foes of God understand. Though the fallen angels corrupt their “heavenly Essences” with disobedience and revolt, they still have a keen understanding of the powers of perception, of personal reaction to one’s environment-“for neither do the Spirits damned/ Lose all their virtue” (2:482-483). Satan boldly speaks to his fellows, asking

What though the field be lost?

All is not lost-the unconquerable will . . .

And courage never to submit or yield (I:105-108).

Like a true hero, Satan refers to conquest and courage, a response to the tyranny he and his cohorts have received from the hand of God.

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