Saturday, February 6, 2010

American Woman

American Woman – Lenny Kravitz Music Code

Okay, I'll say it, the Coquette wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I mean, I get it; epistolary format aside, the language created a serious barrier for me, the subject matter wasn't exactly interesting (which is bizarre, apparently this story was like, tabloid scandal in its time) so I usually don't make this conclusion, but I did not like the Coquette. However, I love a revolution story, and the Coquette was just that.

I liked the comparison to The Patriot.

Everyone knows the story of the Patriot. It IS the epitome of the American story we've been talking about in class; the origin story told through the lens of modern man's. Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin is an American. He defends his keep, his family and his home; and he is able to stay morally correct (despite hacking a Brit to pieces with an axe) because he waits until he is wronged, and must defend himself. And his manhood.

Speaking of the Patriot, let's talk revolution. The Coquette is about sexual liberation, the Patriot violent liberation, both the makings of social change.

Where Eliza and Mel Gibson differ is their methods.

The novel is delivered to us in the form of various back and forth correspondences between the cast of characters, while the topic is always in some way detailing the "promiscuous" lifestyle of Eliza Wharton and ill fate she ultimately suffers.
What the book does is tell a sort of interesting story about a famous Connecticut woman poet's much publicized death and birth to a stillborn at a crowded roadside tavern; it characterizes the fall from a relatively socially adept elite to a tragic demise. However, it does much more than convey this slightly soap operaish tale, it sets a new standard for a sexually liberated woman.
Where Eliza chose to pursue multiple love and sexual liaisons, the typical woman of that time would have immediately chosen Boyer and been stuck with him. Perhaps another woman would have chosen to try and tame Sanford, been betrayed and stuck to her own devices. The revolution in Eliza's heart however, lead her to chose neither, unfortunately for her, until it was too late.
But I ask, what flaw is there in living the life of a bachelorette? In modern times, Eliza would have lead quite a happy, exciting life. This character is far before her time, and in effect, sets the standard for modern women even today.
I found this quote...on wikipedia....but, it's quite useful to sum up for me:
"Eliza Wharton sins and dies. Her death can convey the conservative moral that many critics of the time demanded. Yet the circumstances of that death seem designed to tease the reader into thought. It is in precisely these interstices—the distjunctions between the conventional and the radical readings of the plot – that the early American sentimental novel flourishes. It is in the irresolution of Eliza Wharton’s dilemma that the novel, as a genre, differentiates itself from the tract stories of Elizabeth Whitman in which the novel is grounded and which it ultimately transcends"

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