In the Convent of Pleasure, the protagonist gets fed up with society and runs away from it. She inherited a large sum of money and is being sought after for her wealth by prospective husbands. More than that, however, she is beautiful and as the character 1 Gent says “Faith, that is too much for one Woman to possess.” Not too much for a man, obviously, so he’ll take her money and leave her beauty. How chivalrous of him!
Lady Happy wants none of this. “Should I take delight in Admirerers? They might gaze on my Beauty, and praise my Wit, and I receive nothing from their eyes, nor lips, for Words vanish as soon as spoken and Sights are not substantial.” She decides to run away and leave this society, but finds that religious escapes are worthless because God doesn’t care about these nuns and their sacrifices. Lady Happy wants to hide from the troubles of the world and enjoy the happiness and pleasures of it. In this incloisterment, she and the other ladies celebrate their freedom from responsibility and burden of both husband and child. They speak of their freedom from having to bend to another’s will and answer to his commands.
This past weekend I saw the movie Frozen, and given the snowy state on campus today, the songs have been stuck in my head. One song in particular, “Let It Go,” seems applicable to Lady Happy’s actions. In Frozen, the queen Elsa exiles herself from her kingdom because she has been found out to be a sorcerer and the whole kingdom is after her. She’s lived her whole life hiding her talents at the will of her parents and has not been allowed to truly live. She runs away to escape from the burdens of expectation and hiding. “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small / And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all,” she sings as she walks up a mountain. Like Lady Happy, she’s exiling herself so that she can live her life the way she wants to without having to worry about other people.
I can just see it now – a duet between Elsa and Lady Happy as they belt “A kingdom of isolation / and it looks like, I’m the queen.” Unfortunately for both of them, isolation doesn’t provide the reprieve they seek because Lady Happy falls in love with a woman and Elsa returning to her kingdom because of her love for her sister. But at least she got a sweet solo out of it.