Criticism: Conduct Literature And The Perception Of Women
SOURCE: “The Proper Lady,” in The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer, pp. 15-30. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.
[In the excerpt below, Poovey describes how female identity was constructed in eighteenth-century England. She also shows how conduct books reinforced this identity and the definition of women's role in society. The editors have included only those footnotes that pertain to the excerpted portion of the text.]
The definition of female nature that emerged by the end of the eighteenth century both reinforced and formalized the complex social role that actual women played during this period. But because bourgeois society simultaneously depended...
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