Fantomina Or Love In A Maze Analysis

1545 Words7 Pages
The Manipulation of Societal Expectations and Power
In the short story “Fantomina: Or, Love in a Maze”, Eliza Haywood shows how societal values, standards that people are expected to follow, can also be manipulated to a person’s favor. In the eighteenth century, a woman’s reputation is extremely important because her actions do not only represent her character, but it also affects her ability to find a husband and wed. Finding a husband is an act necessary to survive as a woman in this time period. However, the protagonist pushes the boundaries of societal limits by actively pursuing and having sexual intercourse with a man dressed as four different characters. Although, the protagonist is extremely careful when it comes to hiding her identity, there is only one moment when she hides her face with a mask. It is interesting and worth investigating why she chooses to hide her face for one character, but not the others, and how it directly correlates Fantomina’s ability to control her identity, an act that most women cannot do in the eighteenth century.
In this society, people are organized into particular social categories, treated, and
…show more content…
Although the protagonist feels powerless for a brief moment, she regains control of the situation and a sense of empowerment by keeping her identity a secret. In doing so, she eliminates the threat of Beauplaisir ruining her reputation because if he were to brag about this affair, it would be impossible to associate a character like Fantomina, who is expected to become a prostitute and pushed to the opposite side of the social spectrum, to the protagonist’s true and well-respected identity. When playing the low class Fantomina, the protagonist’s grip on her performance to attract Beauplaisir is the weakest. Beauplaisir was extremely direct and assertive when it came to sexual favors because he felt entitled and superior over Fantomina; therefore, the protagonist must play a different character who is more respected in this
Open Document