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'Torment to a restlesse mind': an analysis of major themes in Poems and Fancies (1653) by Margaret Cavendish

Walker, Judith Elaine (1996)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Margaret Cavendish's first publication is one of the least studied of her works, modern scholarly interest being focused largely on her plays. This thesis argues that Poems, and Fancies is as significant a piece of work as any material produced later in her prolific career.
Through the themes of writing, war, fairies and nature, Cavendish's poetry reveals a restless and frequently troubled mind as well as a highly individual imagination. Her desire to belong to the male worlds of the writer and the natural philosopher struggles with her desire to transcend those worlds by transforming perceived feminine weaknesses into strengths. The various manifestations of Cavendish's restlessness are examined through the chosen themes, which are considered also in the wider context of the complete work.
Cavendish's motivation is considered in the light of her relationship with William Cavendish, her longing for immortality and her knowledge that her writing would be harshly received by her contemporaries because she was female. The thesis concludes that the ultimate torment to her restless mind was the inability of the rest of the world to rise to her vision but that she successfully created a very individual literary space for herself that defies classification or received ideas of quality.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
Department:Shakespeare Institute
Subjects:PN0441 Literary History
PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3148
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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