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WOMEN’S FICTION OF THE 1720S

work is read alongside that of her female contemporaries, it is more accurate to describe her fiction as novelistic rather than as a prose version of divine love poetry or evidence of her exemplary character. The similarity of Rowe’s epistolary plots also points to the didacticism of Haywood’s novels and enforces the idea that amatory intrigues are always framed by the moral and social issues inherent in the representation of heterosexual relations. This practical didactic message to women about the dangers of seduction and guilty passion is evident throughout Friendship in Death and also Letters Moral and Entertaining. Letter XIII of Friendship in Death employs fictional representations of love intrigues in order to warn unsuspecting women of dangerous male passion. The use of fiction as warning is made explicit by the framework of Friendship in Death as the warnings are issued from the omniscient perspective of the spirit world then presented to the recipient in letter form. This letter to Climene is written by a former male admirer whose affection for her is unchanged but whose concern for her is now “more tender and disinterested than ever” in his adoption of the role of “Attendant Angel” (p. 75). The situation which elicits the advice is, however, the staple of the amatory novella – Climene is involved in an amatory intrigue which threatens her reputation, her virtue, and her hopes for heaven. The author of the letter assumes the role of mentor and also takes the place of the admonitory narrative voice found in Aubin and Haywood’s novels: You are, O too credulous Fair! on the very Brink of Ruin: Treachery and Delusion are in Alcander’s Eyes and Tongue, and if you keep this Night’s Appointment with him, you are undone, Infamy and Perdition are before you. (p. 76)[24]

The fate outlined for Climene if she submits to the profligate wishes of her would-be seducer describes the familiar fall of the seduced woman from virtue to vice that is central to the seduction narrative: Your [fate], unhappy Maid, will be a Fall from the Heights of Honour, from the very Triumph of Virtue. What can Man believe? What can the Sex boast, when such Innocence, such Truth, such Modesty as yours, are perverted? Vice will insult, to find Climene among her Votaries, and hardly believe her own Conquest. (p. 77)

Climene’s state of mind is also that of the fatally enamoured heroine of seduction fiction. She is filled with “Remorse and Confusion” and “disorder’d” by her struggle to overcome passion (p. 78). However, in contrast to the typical heroine, Climene has the advantage of direct advice from a divine perspective which reveals the real treachery of her lover: You have a few Hours to recollect yourself, and sure you will not give up an unblemish’d Reputation with all the Peace and Innocence of your Mind, to this blind extravagant Passion. Besides, the Injustice to the unhappy Silvia, to whom Alcander is engag’d by a thousand Vows, and who now 439

Critque  

Crital analysis of Love In excess

Critque  

Crital analysis of Love In excess

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