Custom Reconciliation in Fantomina College

‘The heroes in the ancient romances have nothing in them that is natural; all is unlimited in their character’[1]. Haywood’s amatory fiction withdraws from traditional romances in introducing human limitation, and accepting vice and virtue as one. Custom, as an established and widely accepted system, is therefore not necessarily the right system; Haywood proclaims from the title page it is a history of ‘two Persons of Condition’[2], suggesting immediately a break in tradition from people who are assumingly, without ‘Condition. Ancient romances exhibit love as either faultless when one has it, or tragic when one loses it. Haywood instead introduces love as flawed, alienating the romance genre from custom, but reconciling it instead with a new reality of unpredictable human emotion. Tradition can thus be outdated, and have a negative effect in dragging ‘everything’ back to the familiar but obsolete. Even in fiction, one must alienate us from custom to encourage a new order in society.

It is unavoidable that men and women are to be categorised separately. Traditional gender norms that separate the two sexes –occupation, strength and physical appearance –are irrelevant when considering emotion, specifically love. Instead, Haywood...

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