The King of the Novel and the Duchess of Dumb:.
Exploring Women's Exclusion from Writing.
In the interest of upholding a position of superiority, one might denigrate and ridicule others. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, entire populations thought it necessary to do just this. When a female made any attempt to find a voice to express herself beyond the domain of wife, mother and/or caregiver, she was frowned upon. For, if females were to expand their minds, it was feared the patriarchy, which ruled over many western societies, would have ceased to exist. To be precise, writing was a venture entirely off limits to women. As a result, writers, such as Virginia Woolf, explore the reasons as to why intellectual growth was a strictly androcentric concept. Namely, in A Room of One's Own, she holds that an overwhelming amount of literature created prior to the eighteenth century is predominantly male-written (Woolf 55), subsequently providing a sound explanation for women's consistent exclusion. Here arises the problem of society's perpetually accepted belief that women have and perhaps never will contribute to matters outside of the domestic realm: men created the literature whilst women took care of household matters, thus depicting the former as intellects and the latter quite the opposite. .
Through their work, various female writers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries reveal different reactions to their exclusion from the world of writing. Notably, in Winchelsea's "The Introduction,"" the poet depicts an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction toward a prejudiced, androcentric public that insists on the subordination of women. She possesses little faith in the idea of women ever having the opportunity to openly express themselves through writing, as men regard the act as a threat to their domination. In contrast, Mary Leapor's "The Epistle of Deborah Dough- depicts the value of a woman's domestication by comparing the public's reaction to a female poet to that of a male.