The Instability of Female Quixote

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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... ... middle of paper ... ...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 & Kegan Paul: London, 1962. Sawicki, Marianne. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Edmund Husserl (1859-1938).” 1996. <http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/h/husserl.htm> Stewart, David and Algis Mickunas. “Exploring Phenomenology: A Guide to the Field and its Literature.” American Library Association: Chicago, 1974.

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