Published on November 11th, 2012 | by Key Reads


The Unrealistic Expectations of Arabella

By Alexandra Rosen

You will find quantities of young people with highly unrealistic expectations of how the world ought to be. Girls expect that they will be able to achieve the same look that some celebrity has just by getting a haircut. Of course that’s impossible, she must buy all the products and learn the techniques that their expert stylists have used to create that look. Boys tend to expect that girls will want to have sex as often as they can get an erection. Can I repeat “unrealistic expectation”???

However, are all expectations that we think are unrealistic expectations really so unrealistic? For example, readers usually think Arabella–of The Female Quixote; or The Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox–has extremely unrealistic expectations. She expects that most attractive men will fall under the power of her beauty and that they will observe the niceties dictated by the *le gasp* French romance novels that her mother left behind when she died. Arabella has learned everything she knows about love from her French novels. We cannot expect her to know any better after growing up in a secluded, sheltered country life with only her dotingly absent father and her servants who cave to her every whim.

I suppose my argument here is that perhaps Charlotte Lennox was saying–in a covert way–the same thing that Mary Astell, Anne Finch, and so many other women writing back then were trying to tell their readers. It is an unrealistic expectation for people to assume women who have not had the benefit of a man’s privileged education to have the same expectations of their world.

I was going to say something about how we shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations about what a president can do, but on Tuesday enough Americans decided to give Obama a second chance that I feel it might be a little bit redundant 🙂

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