I really enjoyed Mrs. Hamovit’s presentation on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu because of her realization of different cultures and way of life outside of her own. I also admired her rebellious instinct and contact with foreign people unlike her. While in London, she was accustomed to certain ways of life that she did not realize did not satisfy her until she left for Turkey with her husband in 1716. In Turkey, she experienced life in a completely new way. She recognized how different London and Turkey were, particularly emphasizing the freedom in Turkey in her letters she wrote. In LETTER XXVII she says “I won’t trouble you with a relation of our tedious journey, but I must not omit what I saw remarkable at Sofia, one of the most beautiful towns in the Turkish empire, and famous for its hot baths, that are resorted to both for diversion and health.” While discussing the famous baths in Turkey, she recognizes them because of the freedom these women have to get away from everything and take a break from their outside responsibilities. These baths allowed a safe space for women to come and relax, to get away from work and taking care of the kids. In London, she does not describe anything like this and realizes the importance of it once she experiences it.
She also talks about freedom discussing the Turkish women’s clothing. In the same letter, she says “.. I was last forced to open my shirt, and show them my stays, which satisfied them very well, for I saw they believed I was so locked up in that machine, that it was not in my own power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my husband.” While showing these women her corset, they look at it as a machine that she was forced to wear by her husband. They were shocked by this contraption, showing how free these women are. They get to wear flowy clothing which is comfortable for them to walk around in all day and viewed Lady Montagu’s clothing as torture.
I also admired how Lady Montagu was a rebel. She eloped with her husband Edward Wortley Montagu in 1712, right after she refused her parents arranged marriage to Clotworthy Skeffington. Later on, when her husband left Turkey to return to England, she stayed behind and resided in Turkey until 1718. She went by her own rules and did not care what other people thought of her. She did not listen to the ways of life her parents wanted her to follow, and although her marriage with Edward Montagu did not work out, she found her own sense of happiness when she was in Turkey. Her experience in Turkey opened up her eyes to life around her.