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To what extent can it be said that Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne / Letters of a Peruvian Woman is a celebration of women’s independence?

Dissertation : To what extent can it be said that Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne / Letters of a Peruvian Woman is a celebration of women’s independence?. Recherche parmi 280 000+ dissertations

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To what extent can it be said that Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne / Letters of a Peruvian Woman is a celebration of women’s independence?

Françoise d'Issembourg of Happoncourt, Madame de Graffigny was a woman of letters whose talent was recognized throughout Europe. Author of the famous novel "Letters of a Peruvian" published in 1747, she is one of the most important women of literature of the eighteenth century and in my opinion a founder of a new era in feminisme.

"Letters from a Peruvian Women” is one of the greatest novel of the eight-teen century with more than forty editions in fifty years. This piece tells the story of a young Indian girl, Zilia, whom the Spanish conquest of Peru separated her from her fiance Aza and how the was kept in captivity. Redeemed by a French officer, Zilia arrives at the Court of Louis XV. Francoise de Graffigny innovates and resumes the process of pieces such as “The Love Letters of a Portugues Nun” (Guilleragues 1669) or “Persian Letters” (Montesquieu 1721) on a number of points. It builds a double love story, analyzes the difficulties of a foreigner and allows very critical observations on women's education, religion, marriage, demonstrating a new wave of woman’s independence. She finally imagines concluding her novel not by marriage but by the choice of celibacy, in the name of the pleasure of being and independence.

Therefor we can ask ourselves to what extend can it be said that this novel is a celebration of woman’s independence ?

The following study intends to examine to what extent can it be said that “Lettres d’une Péruvienne / Letters from a Peruvian Woman” of Madame de Graffigny is a celebration of women’s independence. I will use two examples from this book in which this celebration occurs. First through the mediocre education given to women and how they are expected to be, then by decision of Zilia of staying alone rather then marrying Deterville regardless of the situation.

“Letters from a Peruvian woman” is a celebration of women's independence because it denounces injustice. Proving through her work that the woman is independent and strong and that we need to put an end to this inequality.

In her text the author shows different ways where this injustice occurred. She highlights the major contrast present between what we expect woman’s to be and act and the education they receive. The main character, Zilia express perfectly the feelings of Madame de Graffigny regarding the miserable feminine condition.

‘It has taken me a long time, my dearest Aza, to fathom the cause of that contempt in which woman are held in this country, and by almost everyone. Now, at last, I think I have uncovered it in the discrepancy between what woman actually are and what it is imagined they should be. It is desired, here as elsewhere, that woman should have merit and virtue. But nature would have had to make them like this, because the education they are given is so much at odds with the desired result that it seems to me to be the very masterpiece of French inconsistency’ ( Graffigny 2009: 97 )

This passage accentuates the scorn that Madame de Graffigny attributes to the French in relation to the feminine condition. She repeatedly emphasizes this state of mind and the link between women's feelings and the place they occupy in the social life. The expression ‘[…]because the education they are given is so much at odds with the desired result that it seems to me to be the very masterpiece of French inconsistency’ ( Graffigny 2009: 97 ) reveals that this discrepancy comes precisely from the education of girls which includes their training , thus relegating them to a lower place.

Madame de Graffigny seems quite aware of the feminine social construction implemented in France, and she explicitly criticizes her own formation and consequently the society and her vision of the feminine formation. It emphasizes the physical appearance of the woman, which man prefers above the cultivated nature of the mind:

‘Regulating the movements of one’s body, adjusting one’s facial expression, composing one’s outer appearance,

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