Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lewis, Paul. “Attaining Masculinity: Charles Brockden Brown and Woman Warriors of the 1790’s.” Early American Literature 40.1 (2005): 37-55.

Lewis argues that in Ormond, Brown pushed the Wollstonecraft’s ideas of strong womanhood to the limit and showed how women could be warriors that fought and bested their male enemies. He believes that Davidson all but ignored Ormond in her chapter of the seduction novel, even thought the work exhibits the current of thought that the author was specifically looking for in the period. Lewis uses historical sources along with a feminist critique tinged with Foucault power relations.

I agree that Brown’s women (Contsantia and Clara) move against the tide of how American women were portrayed at the time. Yet, I would push Brown’s writing more into the history that was going on around him than into the realm of “feminist” thought. It is clear that Brown wrote of extreme circumstances creating people who were not just to be seen as role models, but to be discussed, debated, and critiqued as he did his contemporaries.