Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: the Trapped 'Other'
Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in English
English Language and Literature
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's letters have been widely read and recognized for their early contribution to feminist literature; however, critics have also defined her masculine persona as contradictory to her overall feminist leanings. Using Mikhail Bahktin's theories on the relationship between author and text, I examine Lady Mary's pre-court poem written around 1712-1713 and her Eclogues. I argue that analyzing the development of her masculine persona in her early poems provides insights into why she chose that masculine persona. It gives her the freedom to subtly criticize eighteenth century conventions by allowing her to become one of the "others" and establish authority, agency, and autonomy. She thereby overcomes the typical obstacles related to her gender. Her poetry represents an early guide to her evolution as a woman courtier, poet, and critic.
© Lisa Wellinghoff
Wellinghoff, Lisa, "Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: the Trapped 'Other'" (2000). MSU Graduate Theses. 504.