Feminism and Renaissance Studies

By Lorna Hutson | Go to book overview

11 Margaret Cavendish and the
Romance of Contract

Victoria Kahn

All things by war are in a Chaos hurl'd
But love alone first made,
And still preserves the world.

(Alexander Brome)

In histories of early modern political thought, the rise of theories of contractual obligation has always played an important role; and yet the usual histories construe contract in an overly narrow way, focusing on the canonical works of writers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in which contract is imagined as a social and political agreement between equal parties to set up a sovereign. In these modern histories, contract theorists offer a simple theory of motivation, according to which the parties to the contract are moved by rational self-interest; the consent of the governed is defined in opposition to coercion; and erotic passion is irrelevant to the production of “calculating and calculable” citizens.1 And, while some historians and feminist critics have challenged these fictions of contract theory2—in some cases by directing us to the widespread use of the marriage contract as a metaphor for the hierarchical, inequitable political relations of sovereign and subject—they have for the most part been content to offer a reinterpretation of the canonical texts of political theory. As a result of this narrowly focused discussion, much of what is interesting and complicated in this history has been lost sight of—not least of all the role of narrative and of the passions in motivating contractual obligation.

In the following pages I suggest that we can enrich our understanding of seventeenth-century debates about contractual obligation if we turn to some of the neglected literary texts of the period: specifically, contemporary prose romance dramatizes the paradoxical coexistence

From Renaissance Quarterly, 50 (1997), 526-66. Reprinted with permission. The version
printed here has been shortened and amended by the author for this collection.

-286-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Feminism and Renaissance Studies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 480

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.