Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

When I first read Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's letters, I was a little confused. They were hard to understand and it took me a while to figure out she was an English woman who was adjusting to the Turkish lifestyle. In the readings, I picked up on some details Lady Mary mentioned that made Turkey different from England. She said in Letter XXVII when talking about the baths, "I know no European court where the ladies would have behaved themselves in so polite a manner to a stranger." She talks about the sense of equality in Turkey and mentions how even though Lady Mary looked different when she first entered the baths, all of the women still accepted her and were polite. During this time, especially in England, the way you dressed definitely made an impression. Most women wore big goofy dresses with stays around their waists.

I really enjoyed Mrs. Hamovit's discussion on Monday night. It was nice to get some background information and clarity about her letters. I was impressed at how bold Lady Mary was, especially because of the time and she was a woman. She was born in the late 1600s and at that time, most women did not have a lot of rights. She declined the arranged marriage her father set up, and eloped with a man she loved, Edward Wartley Montagu. When her husband was appointed the ambassador of Parliament in Turkey, they moved there. The embassy letters Lady Mary wrote were considered to be "inappropriate". She wrote most of these letters to her sister explaining the Turkish culture, and in specific marriage, dress, nudity, social hierarchy, sexual behavior, and childbirth. The way in which women dressed was very different compared to the way women dressed in England. Turkish women would wear loose pants, with a headdress and a tighter top. The women were more comfortable, and it corresponded with the hot Turkish temperatures. What I thought was most impressive about Lady Mary was her courage to bring Turkish dress back to England. She wore those clothes back there and did not care what people thought of her. I also admire her courage in when her husband went back to England, she stayed in Turkey for a few more years because she liked the culture. She was independent, and although she and Edward were married they were not exactly together. She did not love him, and she went on to love two other men in her lifetime. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was a bold woman, and I enjoyed learning about her, especially because of the time period in which she lived.

In some ways I see a presence of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's actions in time today. Many women today do not care what others think, and go against customs all the time. In specific, I think Miley Cyrus went against customs of her expected image. She used to be "Little Ms. Perfect" Hannah Montana, and then she went through a wild phase when coming out with some of her music such as "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop". People on social media would, and still do judge her but she continues not to care because she is confident. She can relate to Lady Mary in that respect.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think about this issue?