Feminism In Jonathan Swift The Lady's Dressing Room

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In the 18th Century, female writers like Haywood and Lady Mary focused on criticizing the contemporary social attitudes towards women while popular male writers, such as Pope and Swift, commented on the English society and the world of the beau-monde in which they utilized women to criticize male society. Together, these writers express their views using various approaches displaying that the English society oppressed individualism, whether in gender roles, beauty, or societal roles. While there are other writers who have touched upon the topic of social attitudes towards men and women, writers like William Congreve and John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester instead depicted social experiments that conveyed the political instability of this period. …show more content…
When he says “such gaudy tulips rais’d from dung,” (Line 145) he is using a woman’s beauty regime to make fun of men. Swift warns Strephon for his mistake in looking at Celia’s dressing room as he finishes the poem by saying “Should I the Queen of Love refuse, Because she rose from stinking Ooze? To him that looks behind the Scene, Satira 's but some pocky Quean” (131-134). The Queen of Love refers to Aphrodite, who is a stereotypical representation of female beauty and desire, like the reference to the “tulip rais’d from dung.” These elevated images contrast with Strephon’s sight of the “ooze” and “dung” to ultimately show the flawed ideal men have for women and the impossibility of achieving …show more content…
Societal expectations of beauty are the central argument of the poem focusing on female beauty as a disguise for the decay of existence. Moreover, the poem is structured as a discovery of the truths of the female body, beginning with an almost ideal woman and proceeding through a disassembled mechanization from head to toe of Corinna. She begins as the “Pride of Drury Lane / For whom no Shepherd sighs in vain” (Swift 1), accentuating her attractiveness and availability to men from the beginning. As she proceeds to remove her “artificial Hair” and “Crystal Eye” (Swift 10-11) are moving down her body to the mouth, she “untwists a Wire; and from her Gums / A Set of Teeth completely comes” (19-20). This ordered disassembly is rather sickening, slowly puncturing the ideal of beauty, and introducing artifice that confirms male anxieties about female deception. Already, the focus has been on the male view, taking in Corinna from the perspective of her lovers, the “Shepherd” or “drunken Rake” (Swift 2, 5), even defining her by their current

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