At Last, My Love has Not Come Along: Representations of Marriage in Astell’s and Defoe’s Texts

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“A woman must remain a virgin until marriage because her future husband will respect her more,” my mother would insist whenever I told her about boys. Coming from a traditional and conversation family, I accepted this thought. However, as I became older, I realized the great amount of sexism that existed in that belief. Many of those double standards prevailed in my family and they are also very ubiquitous in Mary Astell’s “From Some Reflections upon Marriage” and Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders. Both texts show a dominating theme of marriage. The two texts are in conversation with each other because the concepts of reasons for marriage and relationships between men and women that Astell present are also illustrated in Defoe’s novel. Thus, both Astell and Defoe demonstrate the idea that marriage is a patriarchal and submissive institution. However, their conclusive beliefs on the purpose of marriage differ. Astell shows that women must ultimately marry for God due to the inequalities between a man and a woman, in contrast to Defoe, who proves that marriage is conclusively, just a way to economically benefit as a means for survival. Astell’s and Defoe’s concept of reasons for marriage prove their beliefs that marriage is a misogynistic institution; however, their ultimate reasons for marriage differ since Astell shows that a woman must marry for God, as opposed to Defoe, who proves marriage is for economic gains as a way to survive. Astell begins by saying, “For pray, what do men propose to themselves in marriage? What qualifications do they look after in a spouse? What will she bring? is the first enquiry: How many acres? Or how much ready coin?” (2421). Astell says that the first factor men look for in a woman before marriage is... ... middle of paper ... ...hows how she just sees marriage as a monetary transaction, which differs from Astell who sees it as something to do for God. The reasons for marriage and relationships between men and women demonstrated in Astell’s and Defoe’s texts show how the two authors view marriage as a patriarchal and submissive institution. However, Astell believes marriage is for God, as opposed to Defoe, who thinks marriage is for economic gains as a way to survive. In many aspects, these concepts can still be seen in today’s society. There are many individuals who marry for and because of religious purposes and there are also many people who marry for money. Both parties are portrayed very differently. However, if there is one aspect that could potentially be missing from both marriages, it is love (at least in Astell’s and Defoe’s narrations.) At last, their loves have not come along.

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