Examination: “The Accomplish’d Rake” by Mary Davys Term Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 19th, 2019

In the Accomplish’d Rake, Mary Davys reverses the perception of the faulty female character requiring reforming by paying attention to the licentious rapist and rake Sir John Galliard. The author focuses on Sir John’s encounters with women and his experience of vices in London.

The main storyline focuses on the event of Sir John’s intoxicating and raping his best friend’s daughter Nancy Friendly who does not remember the case. Regardless the tragic consequences of plot, Davys manages to grasp the comic atmosphere of events; later, Sir John recognizes his child and decides to marry Miss Friendly.

The presented plot focuses on the innocence of the main heroine mentally, if not physically, and, therefore, she is not criticized by the narrator. In general, Davys’s novel ignores the tragedy of accident, but orienting on the analysis of letters. Specifically, by employing an epistolary genre, Davys’s makes use of letters as means for developing characters to emphasize the importance of humor, wit, and realism.

Instead of immoral exposition of passionate devotion, the letters are concerned with a range of social issues, including marriage, prejudice, and gender differences. Thus, all character’s actions and decisions are revealed through poems, letters, and passive communication. Using poetical voice, the author strives to highlight the reform, the change that the protagonist should undertake to become a morally right person.

Sir John falls into a number of unjustified, florid actions, including whoring, gambling, and squandering. He spends his inheritance on many luxuries and attacks women who are also ready to seduce him, regardless of their social position. Notwithstanding high social position, Mr. Gaillard suffers from social vices including hangover, venereal disease, and cheating.

While highlighting these events, the author makes use of letters that play an essential role in advancing the plot. Particular attention requires the double-talking letter approach written by a jealous husband that traps Sir John. His mother’s brief letter from home that informs John about Miss Friendly’s delivering a child.

The epistolary approach is also placed on the role of gender differences that are rendered through persuasive letters from John’s mother about the necessity to propose to Miss Marry, which also points to cross-gender empowerment.

Apart from the heavy use of epistolary genre, Davys creates the male character and assigns the quality of a modern gentleman to him for the purpose of promoting the theological perspective of the novel, as well as shaping the transition of Sir John to a morally justified image.

At this point, the introductory part of the story calls for authentic representation and imagination. In the story, Davis provides a refined description of Sir John:

You must destroy your constitution with diseases ere you are allowed a man of gallantry; unman yourself by immoderate drinking to qualify you for a boon companion; …you must fling away your estate to some winning bully…and thus Sir John, I have described the modern man of honor (262).

Through epistolary genre as a unique language pattern, Davys manages to create the image that neither heroes nor the author can understand. More importantly, these ironic characteristics are also typical of all men of the epoch.

Male construct is also represented through the literary style in the novel. Although the text focuses on women’s powerlessness, Davys resorts to a reverse representation and encourages the dominance of the protagonist.

Hence, John Galliard always disguises himself and rapes many women during the masquerade whereas the author retells the story from his perspective to present Miss Friendly as the unconscious victim of Sir John’s crime. Therefore, using the male perspective allows the readers to witness the romantic, powerful viewpoint.

Despite frivolous and direct style of writing, Davys was more concerned with unmasking romanticized and unrealistic representations of popular fiction. In particular, she introduces unmasked heroines and unveiled romances.

This new position in the text is revealed through the common use of masquerade as a condition for plot advancement in the novel. In particular, The Acoomplish’d Rake exposes exactly what romance and masquerade can unmask, including the dominance of the powerful male worlds, which is typical of the beginning of eighteenth century.

While writing the novel, Davys focuses on the events of the past and refers to the autobiographical facts. Her satirical, humoristic approach allows to define the unconventional approach to the writing style that prevailed at the beginning of the eighteenth century. In particular, the fiction develops an obscured picture of the political content that deviates from the female writing as well.

The author’s light satirical narrative voice is considered to be one of the brightest features of her writing style (Bowden 18). This comic perspective, alone with the use of carefully structured plots and vivid dialogues, also presupposes the idea of adapting dramatic frameworks to her work, proving links to later works of such authors as Samuel Richardson.

The humoristic plot of Davys’s novel shapes the sharpest point of opposition between her literary works and the common approach that her female contemporaries employed in amatory fiction.

Despite the fact that Davys’s writing style has been discussed in a narrow-focused context, the writer is distinguished for her innovative style in fiction writing. Additionally, the writing style implemented by Davys is associated with the transitional period, tracing the advent of professional women’s careers as writers.

Davys’s role in developing this occupation is significant because she managed to introduce the unconventional style to representing characters in the light of the morale of the eighteenth century’s society (Bowden 18).

The pressures of Davys’s situations makes her resort to representing the writing on the part of the dissipated man whose dominance over women is also symbolic because it reflects on gender inequality and restricted access of women to some of the occupational domains.

Although the narrative text is reflected through plain, direct writing style, the author still manages to exclude the part that do not expose on the act of John’s raping Miss Friendly. Rather, the text proposes another explanation, “Sir John had all the opportunity her expected” (Davys 296). This elision, inserted as a result of delicacy concerns, still recalls the ambiguity of Sir John parentage.

In particular, the protagonist questions, “Suppose [the father] should prove an inferior rascal and I, in pity to your wrong and instigated by friendship, should offer to marry you, which would you take?” (Davys 370). The phrase “an inferior rascal” and Sir John refers to the same person. At this point, the feminist text attempts to deviate from the prevailing ideology and replace it with new counterarguments.

However, the feminist perspective is not represented in Davys’s texts because they are more concerned with the criticism of family institution conveyed through transgressive behavior of the characters.

Therefore, the text revisits and reaffirms the patriarchal structure and asserts a new concept of female sexuality through the prism of male sexuality. Additionally, Davys’s narrative exposes through rendering implicit ideological reenactment by means of which the feminine aspect is suppressed.

With regard to the above-presented analysis, male texts, ideology, and rhetorical devices make The Accomplish’d Rake support the prevailed power. The ambivalence of the protagonists, as well as referential use of language, contributes to the development of cultural and social disruption.

These paradoxes are highlighted through depicting Sir John Galliard as a person who rejects religion, traditional education, and approves a dissipated way of life. Despite this unattractive image, the author locates the text in lively dialogues that cover modern discourses on libertinism and recognizes their significance.

The concept of marriage in the novel is also represented through the instructive narrative pattern that reports the new concept of modern gentleman. Davys does not make efforts at editing didactic and amatory fiction, which creates the linguistic backbone of the novel. The hero, as an antagonistic character, creates human narrative that disconnects the novel engagement of virtue and truth from other genre polemic and treatise.

Both the accent on John’s immoral attitude to life and relationships, as well as on Davys’s peculiar writing and narrative pattern, calls for society to reform the current trends in moral and cultural development. The explicit inequality produces new sphere of influences and focuses on the change from the male perspective.

Despite the fact that Sir John acknowledges the necessity to change his life, he is unlikely to take the role of a faithful and committed husband for Miss Friendly, as well as father for their child.

Therefore, The Accomplished Rake can be regarded as a bright example of mature novel in the eighteenth century because it manages to combine light comedy, realism, narrative complexity, and slight didacticism. All these features create a psychological complex portrayal of the rake.

With sophisticated use of humor and satire, the tone of the novel distinguishes between fairly comic and humorous narrative of plotlines and a restrained narrator’s voice. In particular, the narrator manages to maintain a sedate tone, leading to greater understanding of Mr. Galliard’s consciousness in a manner that prevents him from turning his character to absurd.

Davy’s attitude to rape excludes the emphasis on melodrama or tragedy. What is more important is that the protagonists satirically approach both the act of raping and marriage. The female perspective is diminished through introducing the strategy of women’s fiction that identifies undesirable male characters who mistakenly deliberate on the ideas about female nature.

Hence, Sir John states, “Women no doubt, are made of the very same Stuff that we are, and have the very same Passions and Inclinations” (Davys 298). By using these uncensored words, the author strives to step aside from the accepted norms and discuss the gender issue overtly.

In conclusion, Davys focuses on epistolary genre and lively dialogues, as well as overt use of simple, plain languages that does not hidden censored words. Additionally, all narrative plot lines are presented through male perspective.

Specifically, the analysis of dialogues and description of Sir John focuses on the necessity to reform the male’s attitude to marriage, as well as re-conceptualizes the patriarchal system that permits treat women unjustly.

Article Summary

In the article, Bowden analyzes Davys novels to define the pressures and stereotypes imposed on women at the threshold of eighteenth century. While examining the author’s literary work, the scholars seeks to demonstrate how Davys’s novels, including The Accomplish’d Rake, contribute to self-representation as a woman and as a respectful member of the Irish community.

Works Cited

Bowden, Martha F. “Mary Davys: Self-Presentation and the Woman Writer’s Reputation in the Early Eighteenth Century”. Women’s Writing. 3.1 (1996): 17-33. Print.

Davys, Mary. The Accomplish’d Rake: or the modern fine gentleman. Being the genuine memoires of a certain person of Distinction. US: Gale ECCO. 2012. Print.




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