Free Was Reading Sentimental Novels Good For Female Readers? Argumentative Essay Sample
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I believe sentimental novels helped the cause of women at the time for the following reasons. When these types of novels emerged in the 18th century, they became a great medium for the people, especially women, to pass time and learn something alongside. With the rise of the production of sentimental novels - starting with Pamela by Samuel Richardson - the number of female readers increased, and this led them to one day start writing novels (Jones, 2000). For instance, Jane Austen used to read Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding, from whom she learned many literary techniques that she used in her novels and became even greater than they become.
Of course, for women, being known for an interest in sentimental novels, which are pure emotions, and against the enlightenment of Augustan age, was somehow degrading. Men used to say that this appreciation is due to women’s lack of logic and willingness to think about serious matters. However, I do not believe that this issue hurt women in any way, because reading literary-acclaimed books can never be hurtful, even if they are pure feelings and contain little logic. Reading is what makes the reader think; and thinking is the best exercise for the brain. Also, according to Aristotle, by reading sentimental and sad literary works, one can reached catharsis and feels elevated after the text is finished.
The sentimental fiction of America used to be either about a girl wondering whom to marry ,or a woman wondering how to raise her family (Davidson, 1986). American women used to get married between age twenty-two and twenty-three in that time, and no college admitted women until 1837 (Davidson, 1986) Having said that, I believe 18th century American female readers who were interested in sentimental fiction need to be praised not degraded. It is so clear that these types of readings has been a building block in growing better readers, stronger characters, and finally good writers out of the young housewives of 18th century.
Jones, V. (2000). Women and literature in Britain, 1700-1800. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press.
Davidson, C. (1986). Revolution and the word: The rise of the novel in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
What is the meaning of 'catharsis' in a tragedy? (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2015, from http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/97705/what-is-the-meaning-of-catharsis-in-a-tragedy
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