Eliza Haywood and Her Romantic Term Paper

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[. . .] Simple mathematics indicates that Alexander Pope was probably accurate in his best-known slander of Haywood. It was Pope who, in the Dunciad, gave Haywood what Whicher called "lasting infamy" (p. 122), in part by identifying her two children as illegitimate.[27] The two children assigned to Haywood by tradition have been confirmed in her own papers, and Pope had the number right. Moreover, if Haywood's eldest child was seven in 1729 or 1730, as she wrote, it is unlikely that the children were born in wedlock. Haywood was no longer living with her husband by 1719.[28] (Blouch 1991, 539)

A historical point of contention for those "morally" upright individuals from Haywood's time is not only that the work at hand was morally unkempt but that it was a reflection of the wantonness that the individual female author must possess, proven in her ability to successfully conjure literary images of such wantonness. The works of Eliza Haywood would have been thought of as what America calls "pulp fiction." Cheaply produced and of questionable literary value. According Alexander Pope a contemporary of Haywood and a moralistic literary critic successfully rejected Haywood's genre and personally attacked Haywood herself in the poem Duncaid:

In the case of at least one writer, the romantic novelist Eliza Haywood, Pope is credited with spectacular success. The lines that he wrote about her in book 2 of the 1729 version, figuring her as the worthy object of competition in a pissing contest between the popular publishers Curll and Chetwood, are still said by critics and literary historians to have been responsible for forcing Haywood to abandon writing. The lines read:

See in the circle next, Eliza plac'd;

Two babes of love close clinging to her waste;

Fair as before her works she stands confess'd,

In flow'rs and pearls by bounteous Kirkall dress'd.

The Goddess then: 'Who best can send on high

The salient spout, far-streaming to the sky;

His be yon Juno of majestic size,

With cow-like-udders, and with ox-like eyes.

This China-Jordan, let the chief o'ercome

Replenish, not ingloriously, at home.' (II. 149-58) (Hammond 195-196)

Alexander Pope, through his satirical poem Duncaid accused Haywood of an extremely unladylike ability, the ability to win a pissing contest. The controversy that surrounded the new genre of the novel and especially as it was written by women may well have been partly fear-based due to attempts by women to use a legitimate or at least popular format to voice concerns about such things as the danger that an ideal of virtue as ignorance can place women into and additionally can put the man in the place of the opportunistic villain

The difficulties Betsy encounters after her failure to learn from this example [that of the inability to recognize the value of her lover until he is lost to her] are trivial, however, compared to the dangers caused by her lack of knowledge about human sexual relationships. By the middle of the eighteenth century, sexual knowledge was as strongly forbidden to middle-class girls as the experience of sex itself. In this novel, as in other works, Haywood illustrates the very real physical dangers that can result from this notion of virtue as ignorance. (Nestor 532)

Betsy oft faces situations that place her in danger of the opportunistic improprieties of men in the novel, and the humor is that she knows not how severe the danger truly is because of her necessary innocence of character:

On several occasions when accident or male stratagem separates Betsy from family, friends, or servants, the novel represents her as being in very real danger of being raped. As the novel's heroine, she is always rescued; in order to remain within the conventions of comedy the novel must reward its virtuous heroine with a happy ending, an ending that in a conventionally moral novel cannot involve a fallen woman. Although Betsy escapes the attempts made upon her physical chastity, her friend Miss Forward does not, and her tale makes the dangers threatening the heroine seem all the more real. (Nestor 532-533)

Sadly facing such public humiliation Haywood tamed her literary flare to a degree that rendered her work almost unrecognizable but a truer point has not been made when looking at recent scholarship on the subject:

It is difficult to dissent from Valerie [END OF PREVIEW]

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