Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 April 2022
This chapter on Orationsargues that Cavendish displayed a wider vision than she is normally given credit for. There was little that did not interest her or that she did not believe herself competent about which to write. She mostly ignored so-called women’s topics, and she gave slant attention to religious or spiritual subjects. Orations particularly demonstrates her interest in politics and topics of import to the country, including the perspective of peasants and soldiers. She identified with women throughout, although often critical of them. Her introduction makes clear that those considered more educated and knowledgeable (especially men) tried to keep her from writing about “their” domain, but they were not successful. This essay reveals her resistance to such control and her resentment against its power. It reflects, as well, the ways those in power directed her and William’s lives following their return to England in 1660. In her Orations, she documented both her intellectual and political interests and her strength of character in stipulating her goals beyond women’s sphere.