Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

I was very interested in Ms. Hamovit’s discussion of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Ms. Hamovit pointed out that Montagu is considered “the most colorful Englishwoman of her time” because of her writing in the 18th century. After reading her famous letters and listening to Ms. Hamovit’s incites about her, I can now understand how she got this title through her bold writing and lifestyle. When reading the letters I noticed she wrote honestly about her observations and experiences, and this was something I really admired about her. She made many inciteful connections and told stories that about ideas that were not typically open to talk about at the time. My favorite of hers to read and discuss was her first letter when she wrote about the hot baths in Turkey. She writes at the end of the letter, “I am sure I have now entertained you with an account of such a sight as you never saw in your life, and what no book of travels could inform you of, and ‘tis no less than death for a man to be found in one of these places.” This quotation explains how open she is to sharing her encounters in Turkey. It also shows that the women in the baths were “a sight” that was very unusual. This is because usually when people think of Turkish women they think of the long clothing covering their bodies, not being naked with many other women in a bathing area.
After Ms. Hamovit discussed Montagu’s letters I was able to see how they connected to the articles she chose from the Guardian. I was able to make the most connections to the article that discussed Muslim women wearing veils to allow them to integrate into modern, urban environments more. This was interesting to read because I thought that the purpose of wearing the veils was predominantly religious reasons and that the veils could actually be allowing them to integrate less because it was a factor that made them different from a majority of people in the US. However, the articles clear up this slight misconception by saying that covering themselves allows Muslim women to feel more confident and protected, thus more likely to integrate with other people and keeping their religion represented. I used to think it was sad that women “had” to wear the veils because I assumed it was because it was forced through their religion. However, now I find it a little sad that in order them to feel comfortable and like they will not be forced to succumb to pressures of others in a society, they need to wear a veil.
I believe the most differentiating idea between Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and many other women in her time period and even today was her ability to be open and honest about topics that most people were scared to talk about. She wasn’t afraid to express what she was seeing and write her stories down. Even though her letters were never published in her lifetime, she dedicated a lot to them and knew they were important. Her openness reminded me of Giuliana Rancic who is an E! News host that was very open about her infertility. This was extremely hard for her to share and discuss openly with people because it could have been considered "inappropriate". However, Rancic knew the value sharing her story in effort to educate and help others. I really admire women like Giuliana Rancic and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu because it is important to be honest even though it is very challenging.

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