To My Dearest Lucasia
When readers reflect on the poetry of the seventeenth century, poets such as John Donne and the
Metaphysicals, Jonson and the Cavaliers, and John Milton often come to mind. The poetry crosses over
various boundaries of Neoplatonic, Ovidian, and Petrarchan forms, for example, often with many
references to women filling the lines. Described as helpless creatures, seventeenth century women were
often shut out from all possibilities of power, and they were generalized into four categories: virgins,
women to be married, married, and widowed. In the state of marriage, women were forced to be the
submissive, powerless objects of their husbands. Equality and balance within their marriages were of no
concern to men of the seventeenth century. Out of the oppressive setting of the seventeenth century
arose very few women poets; however, Katherine Philips not only became a poet, but she also displayed
her will to survive by responding to the negativity that surrounded the lives of females, especially the
oppression of women in marriages. By focusing on the importance of friendships between women
Philips used her poetry, specifically "Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia," as an outlet to
critique the misogyny and misrepresentations of marriages put forth by male poets, such as John Donne,
and the oppressive social settings of the seventeenth century.
In order to better understand Philip's critique of Donne within the lines of her poetry, a reading
of twentieth century critic Adrienne Rich's essay "When We Dead Awaken: Writing for Re-Vision" ...
... middle of paper ...
Donne, John. "The Canonization." Abrams 1240-1241.
Donne, John. "The Relic." Abrams 1253-1254.
Donne, John. "The Sun Rising." Abrams 1239.
Hageman, Elizabeth H. "The Matchless Orinda: Katherine Philips." Women Writers of the Renaissance
Reformation. Georgia, 1987.
Mendelson, Sara and Patricia Crawford. Women in Early Modern England 1550-1720. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1998.
Philips, Katherine. "Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia."
Souers, Philips Webster. The Matchless Orinda. London: Oxford University Press, 1931.
Rich, Adrienne. "When We Dead Awaken: Writing for Re-vision." On Lies, Secrets, and Silence. New
York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1979. 33-49.
Wiesner, Merry E. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge, 1993.
Norton Topics Online: www. wwnorton.com/nael
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