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Sexuality and Women

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After a comprehensive assessment on the three texts, one can undoubtedly attest to the fact that one of the primal thematic context featured in the text notably regards to sexuality of women bearing the fact that they all feature this theme in most sections. The attestation could be elucidated further highlighting a book such as Paul and Virginia by Saint Pierre whose central theme centers on elaborating more on the sexuality of the female gender through the two main characters, Paul and Virginia. From a different perspective and considering the three identified texts, one can also conclude with the fact that individuals from both genders highly valued women sexuality in the ancient days which slightly changed during the existence of the romantic era. Therefore, this paper will categorically focus on elucidating more on how the sexuality of women has been a central issue within the three texts on a basis to understand the social regulations. Besides, the paper will similarly consult the three books to help elaborate more on how the romantic era changed the sexuality of women through leaning towards the natural expression of self, and the dynamics of desires in achieving self-knowledge. In summary, the paper will focus more on the three identified manuscripts where it will first summarize each book’s view on the sexuality of women featuring specific scenes elaborating on this notion.

The Hidden Force by Louis Couperusden provides a clear representation of colonial-era Dutch culture. The books is a critical analysis of the future and the morality of colonialism, by expressing the elements of decay and political oversight. Additionally, the book also highlights the aspects of provocative sensuality and supernatural beliefs during the Dutch colonial era. The books characterises interracial interactions based on the Van Oudijk family; their father is riddled with disappointment and hostility towards the children’s racial otherness. Nonetheless, Van Oudijk still meets and lives with a Javanese woman, thus highlighting precolonial relations between Dutchmen and native citizens (Couperus 54).

The author highlights a colonial power trying to maintain their power, but their previous behavior, which includes illicit relationships, interracial sex, and incestuous relationships, indicate a society plagued by immorality and transgressions against social norms. The limited breadth of experience punctuates the women’s role in the relationships, since they rarely venture outside, instead focusing on gossip and criticising the foreign culture (Couperus). In addition, to highlight a community’s lack of control, the hidden force highlights the ideas of multiculturalism, social relations, and gender.

One character highlighting women’s sexuality is Van Oudijk’s second wife Leonie. The author describes Leonie as a woman of voracious sensual appetite, who is ever indifferent to her environment. The author blames the woman and her colonial behavior for introducing immoral behavior into Java’s cultural norms. This compels the woman to take over the burden of guilt, even though; other characters such as Van Oudijk’s son Theo is also blameworthy (Couperus 106). The author utilizes Leonie’s complacent sexuality to describe the egotistical indulgence of women during the era, which is driven by their vanity.

The author also highlights the lack of social regulation among using Van Oudijk’s seventeen-year-old daughter Doddy, who is seeing an Indo-European man. The author’s specificity in noting the cultural differences between the two highlights a societal representation of women as manipulative and immoral. Doddy marries Addy De Luce, even after he involves immorally with Leonie, which depicts women as depraved and desperate.

The unhampered sexuality of native women is also a highlight of the authors, specifically, Urip the Javanese maid, who is also Leonie’s surrogate mother. She provides guidance to Leonie on her immoral actions, as the author describes her as humble, patient and resigned to everything in her life. Her acceptance enables her to maintain her social and cultural status, away from the immense vanity of the Dutch women. The European ideals of virtue and morality have no bearing on the native women’s lives, thus preventing them from committing unspeakable and unnatural acts.

The role of Dutch women in upholding their community’s moral is also an important element of the colonial era. Eva, for instance, partakes in hosting parties based on European values such as dressing. The women were required to uphold European cultural refinement and moral integrity, despite their minimal role in defining the political agenda of the colonies. On the other hand, the men blamed the European women for any losses in status, while they could live with native women and sire mixed-race children. Men such as Van Oudijk had children by native women but always vilified a Dutch woman, such as Leonie, for initiating sexual encounters with native men.

The author emphasizes how in both Dutch and Native cultures, men separated women from their economic and political universe (Garton). On the other hand, women’s private actions defined their behavior, which suggests the female gender had serious public consequences. Additionally, it implies a lack of private space for the women in the era since their husbands and children could access them whenever they pleased. This is highlighted by Leonie’s relationship with her stepson

The antagonistic relationship between Van Oudijck and his Javanese Regent, Sunario, is also critical in the analysis. It arises from elements of jealousy and the reactions of the natives to Dutch immorality (Couperus 107).The highlight of the confrontation is the meeting between the resident and Sunario’s mother when he acts as a supplicant son. This highlights the respected role of the elderly women in the native culture, further supported by the fact that the grandmother heads the De Luce’s family. The dominant female is an element of the native society, which enables them to maintain ethical social relations and self-knowledge. Additionally, the author implies that Addy inherited his grace and elegance from his mother, thus highlighting the woman’s role in their children.

Bernardin de Saint Pierre’s text, Paul, and Virginia could be redefined as one of the well-contextualized manuscripts that precisely features the theme of women sexuality to a whole new perspective. The book notably features the value of women sexuality particularly in characters such as Virginia during the scene on the sinking boat (Saint-Pierre 110). The attestation could be understood well featuring a summary of the book’s storyline. In summary, the book’s storyline features two women from the Ile de France, which is modern-day Mauritius. The author describes the two women as a single after they end up separating from their husbands whereby one woman’s husband dies while the other woman was abandoned by her lover. According to the book, the two women have a young child each, Paul and Virginia, where they decide to raise the two children together along with their faithful slaves Domingue and Marie who grow to love each other and later marry each other. With this attestation, one can similarly identify the theme of slavery as one of the primary theme featured in the text.

The two beautiful children, Paul and Virginia, grow to love each other where they are raised in touch with the natural world, and free from a civilization that would corrupt their morals. According to the author, the world provides all their needs where they care for their piece of land making it beautiful and blooming (Saint-Pierre 6). As the two grow older, they begin to fall in love with each other which somehow upsets Virginia’s mother. Although both their parents had planned for them to get married, Virginia’s mother worries that her child may become pregnant at an early age and that the two will have no money to cater for their needs if they take this path. Therefore, Virginia’s mother is enforced to send Virginia away to Paris where her aunt offers to make Virginia her heir. Virginia is later put on a boat whereby things take a wrong course leading to her death. Virginia is caught in a storm off the coast where she ends up drowning to death after refusing to take off her clothes in the presence of Paul and the sailors attempting to rescue her. Virginia prefers to stay on the sinking boat instead of showing her nudity in front of these individuals. Consumed by sorrow and regret, Paul dies shortly where the parents of both characters are left grieving for the death of their children.

In regards to the above-articulated summary, one can undoubtedly attest to the fact that women sexuality is one of the primary theme featured by the author which is precisely depicted mostly in the last scenes of the book. The value of women sexuality is represented in the scene at the sinking boat whereby Virginia refuses to take off her clothes in front of the sailors claiming that it would curtail or criticize her dignity as a woman (Saint-Pierre 110). According to the author, both Paul and Virginia were raised in a natural world whereby no civilization could corrupt their morals. Therefore, they both had an upbringing based on valuing sexuality, and thus it should not be devalued regardless of the situation. In this case scenario, Virginia was more willing to die rather than devalue her dignity as a woman by showing her nudity. During this period, sexuality was viewed as the most valuable aspect of both genders that redefined an individual’s dignity. While reading Jacques-Henri de Saint-Pierre’s book, one can attest to the fact that it centers on praising virginity and modesty even to the point of death. Furthermore, Virginia’s scene while on the sinking boat backs up this argument.

Similar to de Saint-Pierre’s book, The Marquise of O, a novella by Heinrich von Kleist is similarly considered to be one of the well-featured manuscripts whose primal thematic context centers on women’s sexuality through characters such as Julieta. On a different perspective, one can attest to the fact that the book centers or are somewhat suffused in different concepts including erotic passion, impulsive, paradox, irony, and ambiguity. However, Heinrich von Kleist uses characters such as Julieta to elaborate more on the idea of women’s sexuality and how women dignity was devalued back in the days (Kleist). In summary, the book features Julieta as the main character who the author describes as a celibate young widow who finds herself mysteriously and inexplicably pregnant. The scene happens after Julieta is rescued from a group of Russian soldiers planning to kill her. Julieta who is similarly described as a mother of two children decides to appeal in a newspaper advert for the father of her unborn child to reveal herself where she promises to marry the man who acknowledges fatherhood to her unborn child. Ironically, Julieta is horrified by the fact that Count F. is the one who steps up to acknowledge paternity of her unborn child. Julieta is surprised with the fact that Count F., a Russian officer who had just rescued her from being raped by Russian soldiers was the father of her unborn child (Kleist). Count F. testify that he was the one who had abused Julieta while she was unconscious after rescuing her from the Russian soldiers. Julieta never expected that the person who had saved her from being raped was the one who had raped her.

Before the confession, Julieta used to perceive her rescuer as an angel since he had done his best in fighting the attackers who had a plan to kill Julieta (Kleist 10). Count F.’s confession leaves Julieta full of hatred although she still agrees to get married by Count F. to maintain her parts of the deal. However, after the child’s birth, Julieta had to relinquish her earlier view of perfection and which resulted in her forgiving Count. Also, Julieta had to accept Count F. genuine remorse, repentance and the love that Count had for her. After a profound analysis on the above summary of the book, one can undoubtedly attest to the fact that the author centers his notion on elaborating how women’s sexuality is devalued or somewhat disrespected through rape and erotic passion. Through the act of raping a woman, the author tries to explain the action as immoral and as an act that devalues a woman’s dignity unwillingly. The act is precisely witnessed through Julieta who is forced into sexual intimacy unwillingly which leaves her pregnant and with the inability to identify the father of her child. Although Count confesses to having raped Julieta, the author still acknowledges the act as immoral and an act that devalues Julieta’s sexuality. Notably, the text tries to clarify on the perspective of social regulation where it identifies rape as an immoral that impacts or somehow devalues a woman’s sexuality and at the same time lowers her dignity. On a different perspective, the book tries to elaborate more on the fact that women should not be used as sex objects since their value in our society is way important than imagined.

Similar to the book, Paul, and Virginia, Enrich von Kleist book similarly features a belief withheld during the romantic period whereby sexual intercourse was merely preserved only for the married individuals. Therefore, people upheld a belief that sex was only preserved for those betrothed and thus it would be an offense and immoral to indulge in sexual intercourse and other forms of intimacy for those who were unmarried. Similar to the view withheld in Kleist’s book, the Romantic era held that the idea of sex was entirely linked to marriage and that a woman’s sexuality was observed as a passive and dominated by the male gender. Considering the concept of sexuality, sex out of wedlock or marriage was deemed to be a criminal activity, and therefore prostitutes were found to be criminals. The argument is further attested by Rictor Norton who testifies that prostitution in the 18th century mainly in London was considered to be about theft whereby those involved were believed to be exploiting women or the exploitation of men. In short, sex outside marriage or for unmarried individuals (adultery) was frowned upon by the society (Norton 77). With this attestation, by comparing the three manuscripts and the occurrences during the Romantic era, one can still conclude that they both perceived similar virtue or beliefs regarding woman sexuality. In details, while these books elucidate more on the fact that sexual acts such as adultery and rape are immoral, the romantic era similarly attests to the fact that sex outside marriage is unethical and crime and thus only married individuals should indulge in sexual intercourse. Both texts and the Romantic era acknowledges sexual activities such as rape, prostitution, and adultery as a form of devaluing male and female dignity or sexuality.


Texts such as the Hidden Force provide a sense of sexuality in a society concerning both men and women. Specifically, women face various challenges including anti-feminism and overt masculinity, which in a way forces Dutch women to become sexually deviant. Romanticism augmented by superior Dutch culture leads women such as Leonie to seek self-knowledge, which leads to unnatural acts and desires. Although native women try to maintain their culture, by remaining ignorant, others still participate in interracial relationships, creating a new wave of inter-cultural relations and marriages.

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