Comparing Marriage in Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, She Stoops to Conquer and Moll Flanders

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Separation between Love and Marriage in Mary the Wrongs of Woman, She Stoops to Conquer and Moll Flanders Our aim in this paper will be to analyze and discuss the different ways in which love and marriage were dealt with during the eighteenth century and to what extent these two terms were linked together or considered as opposite. To accomplish this matter we are going to focus our attention on several works that are representative from this period and that reflect in an accurate way the social mores and more specifically, marriage conventions and romantic love. Throughout this discussion we will be emphasizing the idea that marriage is represented in these works as an institution completely detached from love and that it pursues more than anything else economic purposes and an rising in the social hierarchy. First of all we should account for the situation of English women during the eighteenth century, that despite several social improvements, continued having less rights or freedom than men within the family and marriage as an institution. Patriarchal forms were still a deep-rooted custom that ruled society, which was male-centered. Marriage was often forced on women as their only way of having a recognized position in society, but at the same time led them to slavery. Women's property could be spent to the discretion of the husband as she was considered, together with all that she owned, a possession of the husband. Significantly relevant is the fact that the convention of marriages arranged by parents was still widely accepted. Evidences of this aspect can be found in Goldsmith's work She Stoops to Conquer. At the very beginning of the play Mr.Hardcastle expresses that he has already chosen a husband for... ... middle of paper ... ...and stability. However, the existence of arranged marriages and consequently the lack of love, turned matrimony into a prison where women were locked. A male-ruled world transformed women into virtual slaves that had no rights, and the cases where marriage was the result of a true and passionate love can be counted for as exceptional. Works Cited Wollstonecraft, M., Mary The Wrongs of Woman, Oxford World's Classics. (1976) Defoe, D., Moll Flanders (1978) Penguin English Classics. (1999) Goldsmith, O., She Stoops to Conquer Dover Thrift Editions. (1991) Stone, L. The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800, (1979) Pelikan Ty, E. Unsex'd Revolutionaries: Five Women Novelists of the 1790's. University of Toronto Press, Toronto. (1993) Spencer, J., The Rise of the Woman Novelist: From Aphra Behn to Jane Austen Oxford Press (1987)

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