Widows, wives and virigns
Mary Pix was among the first English dramatists to take the English stage. As a successor of the celebrated Aphra Behn, predecessor of Susannah Centlivre, and a contemporary of Delarivier Manley and Catherine Trotter (collectively "The Female Wits"), Pix's oeuvre represents a significant component of the heritage of female writing. Unfortunately her work has long remained disregarded; only recently has women's writing of the Restoration period become a growing interest among researchers.
... ts especially have begun to regard this era as important to their movement, as it provides a distinct portrayal of female characters by female dramatists. Even though not outstandingly distinguishable from plays by men, female characters created by female writers during England's Restoration period are distinct and worth examining. This diploma thesis aims to analyse Mary Pix's six comedies with a special emphasis on the contradictory representation of female characters, and the changing conventions of the late seventeenth-century stage. A close analysis of Mary Pix's works may reveal a more accurate portrayal of women during the seventeenth century; and of traits that might have been overlooked or suppressed by male authors. Women are quite original and powerful in Pix's works: whether a manipulative wife, a powerful and rich widow, a controlling and witty female servant or a heroine on the run to avoid a forced marriage, Pix's female characters are autonomous and strong-minded women, able to influence their fates. On the other hand, a close reading may also reveal quite stereotypical and dependent women. The inconsistent portrayal of strong favourable characters, strong female villains, and passive damsels in distress is quite a typical feature of Pix's works (see Pearson Muse 173-180). Re-visiting plays has therefore aroused the discussion of whether she was a misogynist rather than a feminist. Produced when the witty Restoration comedy was already starting to wear out, Pix's comedies imply both the old as well as the [...]