In Haywood's Fantomina, Beauplaisir is equally as important as Fantomina is. Would you say he is more or less the victim in the story? Give both sides of the argument, using specific examples to support each claim.

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While it is clear that there are arguments that both Beauplasir and Fantomina can be considered victims in this story, Beauplasir's victimization seems insignificant compared to Fantomina's.

The notion of victimization requires implicitly that the victim be a victim of someone or something. Fantomina and Beauplasir are both victims of...

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While it is clear that there are arguments that both Beauplasir and Fantomina can be considered victims in this story, Beauplasir's victimization seems insignificant compared to Fantomina's.

The notion of victimization requires implicitly that the victim be a victim of someone or something. Fantomina and Beauplasir are both victims of one another; Fantomina lies and deceives at the same time as Beauplasir is inconsistent with his affections and continues to leave women behind (not knowing, of course, that they are all the same woman). But far worse than the victimization Fantomina and Beauplasir suffer at the hands of one another is the victimization Fantomina suffers because of the oppressive and restrictive nature of the society that she lives in.

First, the sexual and social repression causes Fantomina to pretend to be a prostitute in the first place. She is curious about all the things she has been restricted from doing. Additionally, it is written into the norms of the society that an upper-class gentleman will have affairs with and then leave women who are situated lower down in society than they are (prostitutes, maids, etc.), regardless of the consequences to these women. In a time and place where virtue (virginity) is so important to women, it is expected that as soon as Fantomina loses her virtue, her fate will inevitably be something like what happens to her at the end of the story: pregnancy and a future in a convent.

The middle section of the story is almost liberating for Fantomina. She gains power and confidence with each iteration of her disguise. But still, while these suggestions are pushing the boundary of acceptability in prose for the time, Haywood must reign in Fantomina's liberation with a restrictive conclusion that shows she receives the consequences for breaking many of society's female social norms. By contrast, Beauplasir suffers none of these things. There are no consequences for his actions, and he is not tied to Fantomina's decisions. He is not a victim of society, making the victimization that he suffers much less significant compared to Fantomina.

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I think the interesting thing about Fantomina's story is the role reversal aspect. That is, whereas in other eighteenth-century fictions (Richardson's Pamela, for instance) the story is about a male seducer seeking to corrupt an innocent woman, here the woman plots to present herself in different guises to her lover, at once gratifying her sexual desires and exposing his inconstancy. In this sense Beauplaisir can be thought of as a victim—he is misled—but it is hard to have much sympathy for him. It is also true that in the end, Fantomina pays the price for her subterfuge: when she is found to be pregnant, Beauplasir is named the father, but it is the girl who is punished, by being banished to a convent. So, in that sense, it is the girl who is the victim, in that she is punished for indulging in the same sexual gratification as Beauplaisir.

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The character of Beauplaisir in Eliza Haywood's Fantomina can be seen as both a victim and a villain. Fantomina herself victimizes him: she is in disguise when she meets him and sleeps with him and never chooses to be honest about her true self. Instead, she continues to be his lover while playing the character of a prostitute. When he seems to be moving on, she creates a succession of new disguises, including a widow, a maid, and a mysterious masked woman, each of which lures him again into bed. When she eventually becomes pregnant, he is summoned to her hospital bed, but he does not recognize her as her true self, and so it seems to be a ploy to force him to support a strange woman financially.

However, Beauplaisir does have many villainous character traits. He attempts to discard a series of lovers when he grows tired of them, unaware that they are all the same woman.

Beauplaisir's ignorance is not evil but shows a lack of attention and intelligence that makes him simultaneously a villain and a victim.

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