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Conduct Books in the 18th Century Essay

Project id 1010410
Subject area Self Improvement
Document type Essay
Words 1732
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Conduct Books from the 18th Century Through history, conduct books have played an integral role in defining what civilizations thought were acceptable and desired behaviours, in addition to representing the perfect person. In the introduction to the Ideology of Conduct, Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse attempt to show how literature and behavior books have been significant in relaying these messages and shaping a history of sexuality through the ages. They also point out the interesting truth that these books of behavior have been directed at women and far "surpassed in quantity and variety" (Armstrong and Tennenhouse 4) comparable types of literature for guys. Some of the examples they list of kinds of behavior literature include pamphlets on marriage, books on principles and manners, and devotional manuals designated for girls of the aristocracy. In our culture today this type of literature is present in the forms of advertising, fashion magazines, and exercise books. Again, how much of the type of literature is aimed at women more than men, which these editors describe as an attempt to define "what a lady should desire to be if she wishes to entice a socially approved man and keep him happy" (Armstrong and Tennenhouse 5). This is logical because even now our society is patriarchal, assembled so that girls many times need to count on financial aid from a guy. However, the introduction points out the irony of this, because not only is your desirable woman being described, but also what a man should discover desirable in a female is defined. Also notice that this isn't necessarily a contradiction, since "the gendered universe of information we inhabit today reproduces and keeps the dominant view (Armstrong and Tennenhouse 5). .

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