The Female Libertine from Dryden to Defoe

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Laura Leigh Linker (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
James E. Evans

Abstract: This dissertation considers how Restoration and early eighteenth-century writers imagined the female libertine in representative comedies and fiction written from the 1670s to the 1720s. These include John Dryden's Marriage A-la-Mode (1671), George Etherege's The Man of Mode (1676), Aphra Behn's late comedy, The Luckey Chance, or an Alderman's Bargain (1686), and novella, The History of the Nun (1689), Catharine Trotter's epistolary narrative, Olinda's Adventures (1693), and only comedy, Love at a Loss, or the Most Votes Carries It (1700), and Daniel Defoe's novel, Roxana (1724). Because Charles II's court mistresses gained prominent positions at court, they inspired onstage adaptations of female libertines by writers also interested in Epicureanism. This dissertation gives attention both to perceptions of the mistresses at Charles II's court and to Lucretius's De rerum natura, which informs the witty, rebellious female libertine figures that influenced the development of sensibility in England during the seventeenth century. The increased emphasis on morality during the eighteenth century resulted in writers featuring heroines of sensibility that reject libertinism. Defoe's Roxana provides one of the last examples of a libertine heroine, and her absence of feeling marks a notable division between the heroine of sensibility and the female libertine.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
English Literature
Women in literature
Sex role in literature
English literature--17th century--History and criticism
English literature--18th century--History and criticism
Libertinism in literature

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