Fantomina

Identity Theft: Feminism in “Fantomina; or Love in a Maze” College

In a time when women were never considered victors in the realm of sexuality, author Eliza Haywood protests these standards in her writings. She creates female characters who show the world that women can win, even in patriarchal societies. Victorious female characters make the world a better place by further empowering other women. Whether they are accomplishing their dreams, raising a family, or finding a mate, women benefit from living their lives with the freedom to make their own choices. In Eliza Haywood’s novella, “Fantomina; or, Love in a Maze,” the unnamed protagonist (Lady —) represents a strong female character in an early example of feminist literature.

The story “Fantomina; or, Love in a Maze” begins with a description of the protagonist as a “young lady of distinguished birth, beauty, wit, and spirit” (Haywood 2740). Lady — attends the playhouse one night and curiously notes the way men give attention to the prostitutes in another section of the audience. She decides to gratify her “innocent curiosity” (Haywood 2740) and visits the playhouse the following night dressed as a prostitute herself. Men flock to her, praising her beauty. One man in particular, Beauplaisir, makes her swoon. She agrees to go with him the...

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