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- Up to this point in the course, we have been mainly exposed to male authors within the seventeenth century. Within the literary works of the male authors, women do not seem to have a prominent presence. In Beowulf, women are weavers of peace which is thoroughly discussed in Robert Morey’s Beowulf's Androgynous Heroism. Likewise, women are also displayed as those who promote tranquility in the Tempest. However, in Miranda’s case, she’s naïve and is used as a means of getting her father back to Milan and is done so by marrying Ferdinand. As we move over to Sir Gawain, we begin to see sort of a shift towards women being obedient to their husbands and as beautiful, tempting people. This is seen in the scenes with Sir Gawain and Lady Bertilak. Also, a commonality among the works of these males is that there is more of a focus on male characters and their perspectives. With Katherine Phillips, we begin to stray away ideas and tendencies presented by the male authors. In her pieces of writings, we see more of an emphasis on the woman’s perspectives and feelings. Katherine Phillips signified a shift in social hierarchy with her poem A Married State as it is the first time we see a woman expresses her feelings about marriage in British literature. In the seventeenth century in England, the men were on top of the social hierarchy. Women did not have any political presence along with the inability to own property. The main role for a woman at the time was to be an obedient wife and mother. They had little job opportunities, so it was either that or essentially nothing and if you were an unmarried virgin, you especially did not have a place in society which is why it was such significant text at the time. For such a patriarchal society, it was extremely difficult for women to have any voice in fight towards equality. With Phillips’s expressions towards marriage, there grew inspiration for feminism. It was the beginning for women in terms of asserting their presence in society and changing societal norms. The ideas presented by Katherine Philips are so revolutionary because of the timing of them. Keep in mind, feminism did not turn into an actual movement until Civil Rights Era in the 1870s. Thus, Katherine Phillips was two centuries ahead of her time which is why it is so revolutionary. What she did was unheard of at the time which makes her ideas pioneers of the feminism movement. Had she not written her poems, who knows if women of British literature would have ever voiced their opinions. Katherine Philips broke society’s expectations placed upon women and inspired many other women in the future. Despite the political climate of England surrounding the time she wrote her poems, she brought about new notions of women and contested the mainstream ideas presented by male authors. Her pieces of writings were revolutionary in that it was unprecedented and marked beginning of change within society and politics in England.
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