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WOMEN’S FICTION OF THE 1720S

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both writers, and the language of military assault to convey the force of seduction is also recognisably similar: words such as attacked, assailed and power are employed in each passage. However, the military imagery is also unspecific in the Aubin passage and the use of the words “force” and “betray’d” are intriguing and suggestive in this context. Indeed, far from being representative of equal combat, the use of the phrase “with a little Force gain’d his Ends. For Love betray’d the Fort within” implies a siege rather than a battle situation. The desire that Henrietta has for Frederick is compared to collusion with a traitor, which has weakened the fortress of virtue and allowed the entry of unlawful forces. Again, the seduction paradigm collapses moral distinctions as the woman’s virtue is won by subterfuge and chance advantage, not through a struggle between equals. In a similar way to Haywood, then, Aubin can be seen to condone the representation of female desire by a subtle deflection of attention away from the woman’s desire to the force and deception of the male. The rhetoric of love employed by Haywood throughout Love in Excess is also used in very similar form by Aubin. In the conclusion to The Life of Charlotta du Pont (1723), for example, after a series of trials induced by separation and slavery, the lovers Belanger and Charlotta enact their reunion in typical Haywoodian fashion: Belanger, clasping Charlotta in his arms, stood motionless, as if he meant to die in that posture, and that his ravish’d soul would make its way out of his panting bosom into hers; his eyes seem’d fix’d on her face, the big drops escaping them, whilst fiery love sparkled in his eye-balls, as if the raging flame within sent forth those crystal drops. (p. 165)[12]

Belanger and Charlotta marry after the reunion, and the narrator draws on the idea of elevated love as a mortal version of “eternal bliss” in heaven: What greater satisfaction can mortals attain in this life, than to possess the person they ardently love, especially when they have so long languished for one another and been so long separated? This is a pleasure none but lovers have a true notion of. Eternal bliss is comprehended in this one thing, viz. to possess all we desire, or is worthy of our affection; and whilst we are mortal, and on this side of the grave, nothing can equal the pleasure of possessing the person we love. (pp. 165–166)

Haywood’s definition of the love between D’Elmont and Melliora in Love in Excess also constructs true love as noble and semi-divine: [Love], where the interiour [sic] beauties are consulted, and souls are devotees, is truly noble; love there is a divinity indeed, because he is immortal and unchangeable, and if our earthly part partake of bliss, and craving nature is in all obeyed, possession thus desired, and thus obtained, is far from satiating; reason is not here debased to sense, but sense elevates itself to reason, the different powers unite, and become pure alike. (p. 250)

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Critque  

Crital analysis of Love In excess

Critque  

Crital analysis of Love In excess

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