Nature versus Nature in The Convent of Pleasure

Lady Happy and the men in The Convent of Pleasure seem to have different opinions about nature and how to serve it. Lady Happy sees nature not in the biological light that the men do, but rather as a kind of hedonistic deity that can live vicariously through the actions of humans. Her opinion about nature is unearthed to an extent in her early and revealing conversation with Madam Mediator: Lady Happy tells her “I will serve nature” by partaking in as many pleasures as possible; in so doing, she continues, she will also serve the gods, because “the gods . . . bid us freely please ourselves.”

Monsieur Take-pleasure and Monsieur Advisor reveal a contrasting opinion during their discussion about how to remove the women from the cloister. Monsieur Take-pleasure says that smoking them out would not be villainous because in doing so “[they] shall do nature good service.” This seems to point to a perception of nature that is rooted in biology, that they would be doing nature good service because they would be forcing the women out and back into the world where they can procreate. It is reaffirmed by Monsieur Advisor’s response: “Why, so we do Nature good service, when we get a Wench with Child, but yet the Civil Laws do punish us for it.”

These two views seem to be at odds, at least according to Lady Happy. Back in her conversation with Madam Mediator, Lady Happy claims “Men are the only troublers of Women; for they only cross and oppose their sweet delights.” It thus seems that were Monsieur Take-pleasure to follow through with his plan and his service to nature, forcing Lady Happy back out into the world where she would be impregnated, he would truly live up to his name. It would require a good bit of interaction with men for Monsieur Take-pleasure’s nature to be served, and this interaction would fly in the face of Lady Happy’s nature.

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