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 Love and friendship

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wangrong



Posts : 189
Registration date : 2010-10-10

PostSubject: Love and friendship   Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:54 am

One of the key differences between Wollstonecraft's novels and her philosophical treatises, as feminist critic Cora Kaplan has argued, is that her fiction celebrates female emotion and argues for its value while her treatises present emotion as "reactionary and regressive, almost counter-revolutionary".[27] Johnson has extended this argument and contends that Wollstonecraft is interested in presenting the benefits of romantic friendship over marriage: "whereas Wollstonecraft shrinks from homosocial 'familiarity' and advocates the ennobling properties of domestic heterosexuality in Rights of Woman, her novels not only resist the heterosexual plot, but displace it with protolesbian narratives wrested from sentimentality itself."[28] While many critics have argued that Mary "capitulates to" or "matures into" both sentimentality and heterosexuality, Johnson's interpretation has become the standard.


Charlotte at Werther's tomb in Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)
Mary's relationship with Ann challenges the definition of friendship; as Johnson explains, it "is no ordinary friendship". Mary looks to Ann, in Wollstonecraft's words, "to experience the pleasure of being beloved".[29] Mary is "coded as masculine (agentive, sublime) while Ann is stereotypically feminine in [her] 'die-away' delicacy".[30] This gendered divide is even reflected in Mary's choice of reading material; she reads books associated with the masculine sublime such as Edward Young's Night Thoughts (1742–45) and John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667). Although Ann does not feel the love for Mary that Mary does for her, Mary devotedly nurses Ann and is distraught by her death.[31] The unusual intensity of this relationship is revealed in Wollstonecraft's description of Mary's sorrow:


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