50 Shades of crazy?

In Eliza Haywood’s “Fantomina” we see a woman go to extreme lengths to enjoy the company of a man. It is hard to determine exactly her motivation because this relationship begins with a rape as he thinks she is a prostitute, so I do not think this is for love or fun. It think this is purely based on her desire to be in control and her desire for pleasure/fun.

She is certainly a text book example of a New Woman. The language Haywood uses makes it hard to determine her exact intentions. At first it may seem as if she very much desires the company of Beauplasir, but once we learn the result of her actions we understand that this whole plot was a hunt for pleasure and excitement. “She discovered what the consequences of her amorous follies would be, without almost a miracle, impossible to be concealed – she was with child.” The author is showing that she is receiving punishment for pursuing her fleshly desires to such an extent. The “follies” that the girl was after was the company of a man who only wanted her for sexual pleasure. Beauplasir’s name literally means “fair pleasure.” There is no emotional attachment here, it is purely physical and the girl goes to extreme lengths to fulfill those desires through her numerous disguises. She is a woman of class so she could easily find a husband or lover willing to court her. Yet she chooses to disguise herself as prostitutes or widows to seek the company of ill intentioned men. This is a purely sexual pursuit and nothing more.

Her consequence for this pursuit is the consequence of any pursuit in this nature. She becomes pregnant and will not be able to have a stable family or a father around to help raise the child. She was not concerned about this, however, when she was in her unyielding pursuit of pleasure.

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