“To Vex Rather Than To Divert”
"The Lady's Dressing Room" by Jonathan Swift and "The Reasons that Induced Dr.S. to write a Poem call'd the Lady's Dressing room". Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
When reading "The Lady's Dressing Room" by Jonathan Swift for the first time, the basic context would lead one to initially believe that the poem is a misogynistic piece of literature that makes far-reaching inferences and creates an unwarranted metaphor about the hygienic nature of the entire female race. On the surface of this poem Swift seems to attack specifically women, with the grotesque and humiliating manner is which Celia is represented in the poem. But this is not a sexist poem that is makes sexist notions, the poem makes a misanthropic notion about the untrue idealization of love, the sham that is the presentation of charm and divine beauty, and the hypocrisy of both men and women, and their expectations for one another. Women are certainly portrayed negatively in this poem, but through the use of the male character and the hypocrisy of his own actions, that there is misconception and misdemeanour on all parts. The narrative used in the poem follows a man named Strephon, as he lurks around in the dressing room of a goddess-like woman named Celia, who he believes he is in love with. During this snooping he discovers that Celia’s efforts to make herself attractive and presentable for society are disgusting and ironically enough, irreversibly unattractive. Swift makes a misanthropic notion and condemns and chastises society for its incongruity, through the use of irreverent satire, and in the case of “The Lady’s Dressing Room”, by utilizing the female gender as the vehicle to express his social opinions satirically, but Swift’s representation of women is not a sexist and a solely blameful and negative one, nor is his sole purpose to degrade women.
In this poem Swift represents women quite negatively, and simultaneously shines a fairly sympathetic light on...