Masters Thesis

Girls just wanna have fun: the truth behind the desiring nun archetype and the stereotypical use of the convent as a setting in the 18th century literature of Aphra Behn and Eliza Haywood

The literature and drama of the long eighteenth century is overpopulated with nuns, and they are all transgressors of patriarchal society in one way or another. These nuns are all vow-breakers, fornicators, and fallen women; whether they were ruined after taking their holy vows or took their vows as a way to escape a society who rejected them for being ruined, there is one thing that is certain: Catholic nuns of eighteenth century literature are clearly trouble. This theme is too pervasive to be a mere whim, so where does this negative view of Catholic women monastics come from? Some of the blame can certainly be placed on the anti-Catholic sentiment that saturated Protestant England’s society, but more of it can be place on the even more pervasive anti-woman sentiment in England at this time.

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