The Exalted Heroine and the Triumph of Order
In each of the novels discussed in this study there is evidence of the authors’ tendency to promote an idealised model of the ‘good’ woman. The qualities attributed to these heroines may include philanthropy, loyalty, obedience and so on, but more generally they are shown as constituting a powerful moral force simply by their presence. All the heroines have high moral status, and in some cases (such as those of Pamela and Amelia) are morally superior to their men. In three of the works (Pamela, Amelia, The Spiritual Quixote) the moral strength of the heroine plays a major part in ‘converting’ and subsequently supporting the major male character. In all the novels, the heroine’s worthiness ensures that she is viewed ‘meritocratically’, is eventually rewarded with a suitable partner, and — where appropriate — is allowed to achieve upward social mobility. Heroines are materially rewarded in all the novels except The Spiritual Quixote and Hermsprong (and in the former, minor heroines receive such rewards).
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Social Mobility Moral Worth Religious Pluralism Domestic Sphere
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