Why have one personality when you can have four?!

   “The lady,” in Haywood’s “Fantomina” is extreme. She seems like the kind of person who if she does something, she does it one hundred percent no matter what. Her behavior towards Beauplaisir, the man she loves, is what gives her this all or nothing outlook. Fantomina, Celia, Widow Bloomer, and Incognita are the four different personas that “the lady” puts on in order to do pursue Beauplaisir. It is almost impossible not to question what exactly is “the lady” doing by creating four different identities and why she goes to the extent to create them. I would argue that similar to the Duke in the “Last Duchess,” our Lady’s motivation for plotting and pursuing Beauplaisir is her need to be Beauplaisir’s want and desire at all times. 

     As the reader, we receive mixed motivations throughout the story. Examples we see include our Lady appearing as in love, controlling, power seeking, addicted to the pleasure, and on and on. It is not until “the lady” becomes Incognita, her fourth and final identity, that we discover her true motive for the extreme measures she has taken. Just after Incognita receives Beauplaisir’s response to her letter, she praises herself for the ways she outsmarted him. While she is reflecting, she informs us that she has successfully defeated the ultimate fear for all women which is the fear of their “lover’s inconstancy” (2580, 3). This dread women have is the fear that in a relationship they will not be their significant other’s want and desire at all times. We discover this is our Lady’s motivation when she “heartily” thinks of the way she has “triumphed” over this fear (2580, 3). Just like the Duke, “the lady” wants to be the only one Beauplaisir wants and desires. Sadly, just like the Duke, “the lady” does not end up being the center of her lover’s world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *