The Convent of Pleasure and HBO’s “Rip Van Winkle”

Part 1/4: HBO’s “Rip Van Winkle”

Part 2/4: HBO’s “Rip Van Winkle”

Part 3/4: HBO’s “Rip Van Winkle”

Part 4/4: HBO’s “Rip Van Winkle”

Cavendish’s “The Convent of Pleasure” is an interesting play. She showcases the role of a feminist in the 18th century. Cavendish introduces us to the main character Lady Happy who has lost her father and becomes very wealthy. As a feminist, Lady Happy is completely against the typical roles for women in the 18th century. Women at this time were not view as independent; they almost completely relied on men or their husband. Women’s roles were to get married, have babies, tend to the house, and take care of their husbands. This is what bothered Lady Happy; she thought women should be more independent. Just the same, it was not as if Lady Happy was not an eligible bachelorette. In fact, Cavendish portrayed her as the wealthy women that everyone wanted.  It does not help the situation how the men viewed Lady Happy as an object to obtain or possess.  When Lady Happy decides she does not want to get married, she easily becomes that women that every man wants but can not have. Unlike typical 18th century women, Lady Happy challenge the men’s power and authority they thought they had. In addition, Lady Happy creates a convent which all women can stay in and enjoy the pleasures of the world without the interference of men. This was basically a group of unmarried women who choose to avoid the pains of men and marriage. This convent was very important in Lady Happy carrying out her feminist beliefs.

Lady Happy’s convent has various connections with the HBO TV show Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child’s “Rip Van Winkle”. The show is seen as a feminist rethinking of Washington Irving’s classic tale. Rip is a chauvinistic rock & roller who marries the talented Vanna, whose music career goes by the wayside when they marry. Vanna discovers finds The Women of Thunder Mountain, who give her a potion designed to help her husband change his rigid and male piggy ways. Instead, he falls into a long sleep. When he wakes up 20 years later, he finds that his ideas about men & women’s roles are too. The president is a woman, Vanna owns her own business, and his now-grown son is a stay-at-home-dad.

Like Lady Happy, Vanna exercises her independence with a group of feminists. The Women of Thunder Mountain went against the beliefs of society; they were loud and powerful women. Like Lady Happy and her convent, Vanna and the Women of Thunder Mountain are ahead their time. It takes nearly 20 years for Vanna’s world to see the needed change. Like the men in the 18th century, Rip had sexist mindset. He often referred to his wife as “My Vanna” and he referred to himself as the “King of his castle”. He just wanted Vanna to cook, clean, & take care of their baby and himself. After 20 years of a deep sleep, Rip sees the power of women.  Like Lady Happy, Vanna had to defy conventional notions of women in order to create this power. However, in the end, both Vanna and Lady Happy could not successfully live without love and marriage. In essence, being a feminist doesn’t ruin your love life….that is another conversation…(that can found here http://www.salon.com/2014/01/08/feminism_isnt_ruining_your_love_life/ )

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