How is Millamant cosidered as a new woman who values freedom, privacy and individuality in a man-woman relationship?

lit24 | Student

1.Privacy:In the opening scene Mirabell relates to Fainall how he was insulted by Millamant the previous evening at Lady Wishfort's house. Mirabell had wanted to meet Millamant privately and pass on some very important information confidentially to her. But that meeting being only a "ladies only meeting," Millamant joined with the others and behaved rudely to Mirabell by hinting that his presence was unnecessary there. But Mirabell assures Fainall that he likes Millamant in spite of her faults, in fact he tells his friend that he likes because of her faults:

"for I like her with all her faults; nay, like her for her faults. Her follies are so natural, or so artful, that they become her; and those affectations which in another woman would be odious, serve but to make her more agreeable."

In the same scene, Millamant insists on her right to privacy in the following words:

"To have my closet inviolate; to be sole empress of my tea-table, which you must never presume to approach without first asking leave.  And lastly, wherever I am, you shall always knock at the door before you come in."

2 Freedom: Similarly, in the famous 'proviso' scene in Act IV, when Mirabell woos her and Millamant lays down  her conditions before she accepts his proposal she remarks:

"My dear liberty, shall I leave thee? My faithful solitude, my darling contemplation, must I bid you then adieu? Ay-h, adieu—my morning thoughts, agreeable wakings, indolent slumbers, all ye douceurs, ye someils du matin, adieu—I can’t do’t, ’tis more than impossible— Positively, Mirabell, I’ll lye abed in a morning as long as I please."

Millamant insists that marriage must not interfere with her freedom to lie in bed as long as she pleases.

3. Individuality:Millamant very cheekily insists that even after her marriage to Mirabell she will retain her individuality and that both of them must be very unlike all the other married couples in London:

"Ay, as wife, spouse, my dear, joy, jewel, love, sweet-heart, and the rest of that nauseous cant, in which men and their wives are so fulsomly familiar—I shall never bear that—Good Mirabell, don’t let us be familiar or fond, nor kiss before folks, like my Lady Fadler and Sir Francis: nor go to Hide Park together the first Sunday in a new chariot, to provoke eyes and whispers; and then never be seen there together again; as if we were proud of one another the first week, and ashamed of one another ever after. Let us never visit together, nor go to a play together, but let us be very strange and well bred: let us be as strange as if we had been married a great while; and as well bred as if we were not married at all."

These examples clearly prove that Restoration ladies enjoyed a great degree of freedom which would be the envy of even the women of today.

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The Way of the World

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