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The Actual Disappointment Essay

1370 words - 6 pages

Aphra Behn, a remarkable author who “‘…earned… [women]…the right to speak their minds’”, who was not afraid to speak her mind herself as evident in her works, and was a writer that aided in paving the way for women’s rights through the literature world (The Norton Anthology 2308). A majority of Behn’s works serve to further the voice of women in the oppressed society in which they were living in and this work being examined is no exception to this. The Disappointment serves as a perfect satiric companion to John Wilmot’s satire The Imperfect Enjoyment, in which instead of the sympathy being placed on the “unfortunate” man who cannot perform, the consideration is retained on the woman’s feelings during this situation instead. This may not seem awe-inspiring, but for a time period when a gender whose side in not often portrayed, this is very significant. In the text, Behn is acting as a voice for the women of that era. She is giving women a platform to stand on to push against this male dominated society; thus providing power for the unheard. By using specific diction, meter, and so forth Behn’s work, The Disappointment, is a vessel in which she demonstrates and satires the patriarchal dominance over women in society.
The creative use of diction that Behn puts forth in her work is extremely capturing to the reader. Furthermore, it brings forth another layer to observe in this work. When examining the last stanza, words such as bewitching, fury, and damned leap off the page. Examine first the word bewitching. This word in itself provides a negative connotation within the reader. Behn realized this and the word was not utilized unintentionally. Here Behn emphasized how during this time period the perspective of women consisted of the entire gender simply being these creatures who serve to weave spells around their male counterparts. Furthermore, it emphasized the tendency of men using women as the scapegoats for their incompetence. This is evident by the man utilizing this type of absurd reasoning instead of taking responsibility for his personal incompetence. This type of description is similar to the usage of the word nymph to describe Cloris. The connotation pertaining to this word is also negative and serves to further embellish the popular image of the time where women were just creatures that seduce men intentionally. Furthermore, the word shepherdess serves a purpose similar to these. By describing the young woman as a shepherdess, Behn is satirizing a society that is based on class where women fall more along the bottom of the totem pole. A shepherdess in that time period typically meant a woman from a poorer family who has less value than say of a woman from an aristocratic family. Here, a shepherdess is a direct reflection of a woman’s lower place in society, specifically under the men in her life. Additionally, it becomes apparent in this last stanza that Behn is staunchly supporting the woman’s perspective of the predicament taking...

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