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Examination of Women's Friendships through an Analysis of Katherine Philips' Friendship's Mystery

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Examination of Women's Friendships through an Analysis of Katherine Philips' Friendship's Mystery:

To My Dearest Lucasia



When readers reflect on the poetry of the seventeenth century, poets such as John Donne and the

Metaphysicals, Jonson and the Cavaliers, and John Milton often come to mind. The poetry crosses over

various boundaries of Neoplatonic, Ovidian, and Petrarchan forms, for example, often with many

references to women filling the lines. Described as helpless creatures, seventeenth century women were

often shut out from all possibilities of power, and they were generalized into four categories: virgins,

women to be married, married, and widowed. In the state of marriage, women were forced to be the

submissive, powerless objects of their husbands. Equality and balance within their marriages were of no

concern to men of the seventeenth century. Out of the oppressive setting of the seventeenth century

arose very few women poets; however, Katherine Philips not only became a poet, but she also displayed

her will to survive by responding to the negativity that surrounded the lives of females, especially the

oppression of women in marriages. By focusing on the importance of friendships between women

Philips used her poetry, specifically "Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia," as an outlet to

critique the misogyny and misrepresentations of marriages put forth by male poets, such as John Donne,

and the oppressive social settings of the seventeenth century.



In order to better understand Philip's critique of Donne within the lines of her poetry, a reading

of twentieth century critic Adrienne Rich's essay "When We Dead Awaken: Writing for Re-Vision" ...


... middle of paper ...


...Company, 2000.

Donne, John. "The Canonization." Abrams 1240-1241.

Donne, John. "The Relic." Abrams 1253-1254.

Donne, John. "The Sun Rising." Abrams 1239.

Hageman, Elizabeth H. "The Matchless Orinda: Katherine Philips." Women Writers of the Renaissance

Reformation. Georgia, 1987.

Mendelson, Sara and Patricia Crawford. Women in Early Modern England 1550-1720. New York:

Oxford University Press, 1998.

Philips, Katherine. "Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia."

Souers, Philips Webster. The Matchless Orinda. London: Oxford University Press, 1931.

Rich, Adrienne. "When We Dead Awaken: Writing for Re-vision." On Lies, Secrets, and Silence. New

York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1979. 33-49.

Wiesner, Merry E. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge, 1993.

Norton Topics Online: www. wwnorton.com/nael


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