In Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote, the unruly Arabella clashes with the eighteenth century’s conception of England as an orderly, unromantic site of commercial trade. Arabella’s romances prompt her to expect certain power structures from English society; she invites others to see her body as a spectacle and expects that her actions will solidify her status as a powerful woman. Yet Lennox reveals that English society sees Arabella’s body not as powerful, but as an object upon which they may construct their own potential site for the exchange of knowledge, an objectification that neither Arabella nor Lennox are prepared to accept. I argue that Lennox teaches her reader to read English social spaces in terms of discourses of power, thereby giving women the literacy skills to read their own subjectivity according to their position in both romantic and unromantic public spaces.
literacy, women, spectacle, reading
"The Female Quixote as Promoter of Social Literacy,"
ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830: Vol.3: Iss.1, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/abo/vol3/iss1/1