"Destructive, Damnable, Deceitful Woman!"
Context: The leading Restoration writer of comedies was Thomas Otway. One of his best was The Orphan or The Unhappy Marriage, a domestic tragedy, distantly following the plot of Shakespeare's Cymbeline. Its simple and direct language fits the action. Its psychology is convincing, and its pathos does not distract. It shows Otway's tendency to leave behind the heroic bombast of the Elizabethan period in the direction of pathos and sentimentality. Monimia, an orphan, has been left under the guardianship of Acasto, a Bohemian nobleman, retired from court and living in the country. Both his sons, Castalio and Polydore, love her. She prefers the older Castalio and gives him a password to let him enter her chamber. However, Polydore, overhearing the conversation, arrives first, and when Castalio comes the servant says the lady will not admit him. That news causes Castalio to embark, at the end of Act III, on a tirade to an elderly servant, Ernesto, about all the evil caused by such women as Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, and others:
CASTALIOMy thoughts are full of woman; thou poor wretch, art past 'em.ERNESTOI hate the sex.CASTALIOThen I'm thy friend, Ernesto.I'd leave the world for him that hates a woman.Woman the fountain of all humane frailty!What mighty ills have not been done by woman?Who was't betrayed the Capitol? A woman.. . .Who was the cause of a long ten years war,And laid at last old Troy in ashes? Woman.Destructive, damnable, deceitful woman!Woman to man first as a blessing giv'n,When innocence and love were in their prime.