The downfalls of power


Eliza Haywood’s main point is that the blame has always fallen on women throughout time for any of the negative outcomes of sexual relations in Fantomina.  Throughout time women have become free to a certain degree, but the blame and physical burden of a sexual relationship will never change for women whether they be of great wealth or not.  This equality is shown with the four different characters that Fantomina disguises in such as a low class prostitute, a country girl employed as a maid “Celia”, a widow “Mrs. Bloomer”, and as an unknown women “Incognita” who wore a mask. 

Each of the times that Fantomina dressed in a new disguise to follow the Beauplaisir for her desires, she grows fond of him even knowing about his unfaithful nature, she ends up betrayed herself.  Her punishment is not only the pregnancy, but also is sent to a monastery.                               

Even though Fantomina tricks Beauplaisir by the disguises into thinking that he has had several affairs with women, he is still free to continue with his “conquests” with women and forget about the past.  Her distress and anguish is expressed when Fantomina says, “But this confinement was not the greatest part of the trouble of this now afflicted lady: She found the consequences of her amorous follies would be, without almost a miracle, impossible to be concealed (2582 Haywood).”  This is making a point about how women are still oppressed because they have to bear the burden of pregnancy in or out of wedlock.  Another point that Haywood tries to get across is that women will disguise themselves maybe not as different characters like Fantomina did, but they will mask or cover up their personality for a man that they desire even if the he is not interested.  It is ironic that Fantomina thinks that she has effectively outwitted Beauplaisir each time she is dressed differently: “But I have outwitted even the most subtle of the deceiving kind, and while he thinks to fool me, is himself the only beguiled person (2577)”, but in reality she is the one that is tricked and punished at the end of the story for her foolish ways and dreams of an unattainable man.

Price, Christine. “Double Standards in Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina.” Associated Content (2006): 1. Web. 13 Dec 2009. <>


One Response to “The downfalls of power”

  1. hawc10 Says:

    I thought it was interesting how you talked about how women still have to deal with pregnancy whether married or not married. This is important because it shows that Fantomina has to take responsibility for her lustful actions.

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