Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of English: English Studies
This project situates the state of virginity as both a narrative and mode of behavior within Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela. By challenging the supposition that feminine virginity in eighteenth-century novels is presented as both an intellectual and physical disability, this thesis allows for a reconsideration of how virginity functions in the early novel. I place virginity in three distinct and yet simultaneous modes of thinking that contributed to the conflicting and contradictory images of women that were available to purchase in print: virginity as moral intelligence and form of resistance; virginity as an intellectual disability, and the loss of virginity as intellectually enabling. These three modes of thinking and, in turn, behavior, allow for the state and site of virginity to be bound intrinsically with the textual production and social constructions that were used during the eighteenth century. The ways in which women were portrayed and constructed in narratives such as Pamela signified that textual inscription was not merely being enacted upon paper materials, but rather on women's bodies themselves.
Leipart Guttilla, Jayna Morgan, "Virginity and Intellectual Construction: the Function of Virginity within the Early English Novel" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 517.