Date of Award
Master of Arts
This work is a study of the prostitute in early antebellum America as she exists in the literary world. I argue that the prostitute is a metaphor operating on two levels: she is symbolic both of a failed democratic state and the feminist as imagined by a hysteric patriarchy. Looking especially at Charles Brockden Brown's Ormond and Arthur Mervyn, Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple, and a variety of newspaper and journal articles, I explore the ways in which the prostitute embodied the belief that female independence was unnatural and could only result in the widespread vice of the very component of society whose political duty it was to raise virtuous male citizens and the fear that the fate of the French Revolution could reproduce itself in America.
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