Mary Astell: Reflections on Marriage

(1359 words)
  • Jennie Batchelor (University of Kent at Canterbury)

Mary Astell's Reflections Upon Marriage (1700) is, in many ways, the philosophical antecedent to her previous work, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (Part I 1694; Part II 1697). In its exploration of the fundamental inequality of marriage and the unhappy consequences of an ill-judged match, the Reflections outlined many of the problems for which her earlier proposal for female education offered a solution.

Astell's Reflections was inspired by the marriage and acrimonious split of her notorious neighbour, the Duchess of Mazarine. In Mazarine's story, Astell found a perfect exemplum of the “dangers of an ill Education and an unequal marriage” her text explores. The Duke of Mazarine was cruel, mad, …

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Batchelor, Jennie. "Reflections on Marriage". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002
[, accessed 25 November 2015.]