An Analytical Essay on Sexual and Class Exploitation
In “The Wife’s Resentment”
This essay will analyze the themes of sexual and class exploitations in the story “The Wife’s Resentment” by Delariviere Manley. By exploring these themes we are able to get an idea of why Manley wrote this story. That is, she hoped to make young women, whether rich or poor, aware of the value of their virtue as well as their rights as married or single women to protect that virtue or honor. By revealing the themes that are presented in the story, we can see what Manley stood for and why she wrote this story in the period she lived in.
“The Wife’s Resentment” is a story with a plot that amazes the reader. It’s a plot that brings you directly into the 18th century society and introduces you to a young women’s suffering due to being betrayed by the only man she loved; which leads to the lost of her virtue and good reputation. It is apparent that this story is written in Amatory Fiction which was very famous during the 17th and 18th centuries. Amatory Fiction usually depicts an innocent trusting woman who is deceived by a lustful man as I mentioned above. This is the case for the main character in the story which is Violenta. Violenta is a poor orphan which is described by the author as a beautiful young lady with the capabilities of reading and writing and was known all throughout Valencia for her virtue and honest report until she met Roderigo. Seignior Roderigo, Knight of Valencia is described as a rich handsome person who pleased everyone. To him all women were indifferent and as stated by the author, “his business was mere gallantry, he knew not what it was to love; provided he could but triumph, he valued not the conquest” (144). Nonetheless, he met Violenta and immediately fell in love or in my opinion lust.
We encounter the first example of sexual exploitation in the story when Roderigo is pursuing Violenta for several months and trying to convince her to get involved with him. However, she manages to stay strong and not give into any favors with him until married. Her response to his pursuit was “Your person is handsome, your present very well, your letter is witty and extraordinary well writ; but what are all these accomplishments to a virgin who values nothing but virtue?” (146). This passage is very significant because it gives the reader knowledge of what Violenta stands for. The author intended for the reader to know that even though Violenta was of a lower class than Roderigo, that she was not willing to be used as a mistress or to submit to his needs without getting married. This part of the story is considered sexual exploitation because he is in a way pressuring her into giving up her virtue. He followed her around “where to be near her, he committed a thousand indecencies” (147). This caused Violenta to let him know that she wanted to be left alone so she goes on to say, “I know it will be impossible for me to live after the loss of my...