Love Didn't Mean Much in the Seventeenth Century

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Faithfulness does not seem to be a common practice that men engage in during the English Restoration. In Some Reflections Upon Marriage Mary Astell purposes the idea that women should not marry and risk ending the human race until they are given the rights they deserve in marriage. Astell writes about the non-ideal way of how marriages were set up during her time. "The late seventeenth century's Mary Astell has been deemed by many present-day philosophers and historians to be the first female English feminist" (Bryson, 40). Astell points out that the marriages with money but no love led to the horrific life of a depressed wife and a life of lust for the husband with other woman. William Congreve shows an audience in 1700 during the premier of the play The Way of the World that a poor marriage leads to unfaithful lust outside of the marriage and those strict rules when inheritance and society are concerned led women to marry men they otherwise would not. Also, marriages stay together when they should be separated or never married at all. Astell's ideas are also portrayed in Samuel Pepys's Diary. Pepys constantly cheats on his wife. He eventually is caught cheating by his wife but he is mad when he realizes that he does not put her in her place. The Way of the World and The Diary shows the problems that Astell writes about. She speaks the truth which puts her ahead of her time but also shows that she is not marriage material because she might outsmart her husband. During the English Restoration, Mary Astell's piece Some Reflections Upon Marriage repeals the systematic way of marriage arrangements and advises woman to refrain from the contract until husband and wife are equal. William Congreve's play The Way of the W...

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She identified with women and encouraged them to change their lives,

respect their abilities, and avoid an easy admiration of men. She did not

seek a revolution in sexual relationships, but she did attack in strong

language men's use of wives as "upper servants," the waste of women's intellectual and moral talents, and men's self-interested, dishonest

manipulation of courtship and marriage." (Smith, 818).

Astell says that the women need to wake up and realize the inequality before they can take action. In order for this plan to work, women need to be firm and they cannot give into the men. The women need to realize that they are playing their parts like puppets, "and for this reason `tis less to be wondered at that women marry often haste, for perhaps if they took time to consider and reflect upon it, they seldom would" (2284).
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