The Lady's Dressing Room Analysis

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Thanks to the literature written by women as well as men, women have gone through phenomenal changes in how they were seen, represented, and depicted in modern-day society. Women have undergone the same transformations as they were represented in literature. Jonathan Swift’s “The Lady's Dressing Room” followed the story of Strephon as he entered the dressing room of his lover Celia with high hopes of being romanced by the fancy clothes and the lovely smelling perfumes. However, as he entered, his high hopes were shot down when he saw oily smocks, a dirty smell, and the infamous chamber pot. It is in this moment where he realized that Celia is not a goddess held to high standards. She was, he realized human after all and was about as disgusting as he was. This harsh depiction - dictated by a man - of the realities of being a woman struck Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a contemporary of Jonathan Swift to write a poetic response which she called “The Reasons that Induced Dr. Swift to Write a Poem Called 'The Lady's Dressing Room.’” In the poem, she attacked Swift’s and satirized the events that he outlined for his readers. Montague held that the only reason Swift wrote the poem was because of his sexual frustration, his impotence, and his lack of romance from women. In order for readers to fully understand their social and their literary present, they must be able to understand their past. It is through the literature of past authors - specifically Montagu and Swift - that readers learn of the harsh realities and ridicule that women faced as a minority group during the time period in which their two poems were written. Women today - though not as much as in earlier history - were required to defend themselves against men and sometimes ev...

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