Brianna O'Donnell on Addison and Steele

Published by admin_main on Mon 06 Dec, 2010

Ques #3. Steele makes Arietta retell from Ligon's 1657 The True and Exact History of Barbados a story later woven into many literary works, including George Coleman's 1787 opera version. What counter-narrative does the tale oppose to the usual stereotyping of women as fickle and dissembling? What instruction does it offer literate women in waging a kind of "guerrilla warfare" against sexism reinforced by the literary canon?

This essay investigates how Steele uses Arietta to challenge the classical story of the Ephesian Matron, and to suggest some of the eighteenth-century limits of the classical tradition for women. Based on the definition of both fickle and dissembling, Yarico is the exact opposite of both these words. According to, fickle is defined as, "quick to change one's opinion or allegiance; insincere; not loyal or reliable" and according to, dissembling is defined as, "pretending with intention to deceive." It is clear based on the text that neither of these qualities are found in Yarico thus opposing the usual stereotyping of woman. In fact, Inkle has more of these characteristics than Yarico does. For example, there are many instances where Yarico shows nothing but loyalty and dedication towards Inkle. This is evident in the following quotes on pages 2477 to 2478.

"The Indian grew immediately enamored of him