After reading The Progress of Romance through Times by Clara Reeve was different from some of the other works we have read in class. Reeve dedicates this work to discussing about women writers, and how their writing is inappropriate. Reeve mainly focuses her argument on Behn and Haywood.
I found this piece interesting because most women during this time frame wanted to have other women write about about sex and be witty in their writing. Women wanted other women to do this for a specific reason: to show men that women can write and that they deserve an education. That is why I found Reeve’s piece so fascinating. She feels that women should write in an proper way: “There are strong marks of genius in all this lady’s works, but unhappily, there are some parts of them very improper to be read by, or recommended to, virtuous minds, and especially to youth.” (Reeve 664). She is writing about Behn in this passage, and she acknowledges that Behn is a good writer, but she is not writing about what women should be writing about. Reeve feels that women should with women virtues in mind, such as obedience and chastity.
The reason I found this work different from other women writers we have read is because, as I mentioned before, most women from the 18th century wanted to write in a way that challenged men, but Reeve wants women to write in a way that is proper and does not challenge me. To me, it seems that Reeve is fine with woman being the inferior sex, and does want women to challenge men for the right to women’s education. What do you think? Do you feel that Reeve wants women to remain unequal to men, or do you think she is hinting in The Progress of Romance through Times that women can evolve in a more subtle way?