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Abigail  Stewart

Feminism in the Works of Baroness Orczy
The Influential and Theatrical Life of Caron de Beaumarchais

Throughout the novels of Baroness Orczy, a Hungarian born, British author, there are signs of the changing roles of women. Writing in the early twentieth century, her works reflect the world’s changing view of women. Characters like the accomplished French actress, Marguerite Blackney of The Scarlet Pimpernel and the witty, logical female detective, Lady Molly Robertson-Kirk of Lady Molly of Scotland Yard are two examples of the strong women that Orczy portrays. The characters confront the difficulties of their femininity with full knowledge of their emotions, using them to their advantage. Contrary to the stereotype, their emotions are not a detriment to them. They use their feelings and womanly intuition to face their problems and to take hold of their own lives.

In the years leading up to the French Revolution, one play, The Marriage of Figaro , sparked revolutionary feelings among Parisians. Playwright Caron de Beaumarchais wrote it in response to the turbulent political concerns in France. Being the son of a watchmaker, and one himself, he rose in France’s high society, and was able to converse with all levels of society. His first marriage gave him the name and the rank he needed to become friends with the king of France. His wit and charm won him many friends in the court, but made many enemies also. With his dramatic works, Beaumarchais put his stamp on French theater, making popular attitudes of the day the central issues of his works. He is most remembered for his politically-themed play about the folly of the French aristocracy and the downward spiral of the French regime.

Major Works Consulted:

Cox, Cynthia. The Real Figaro, The Extraordinary Career of Caron de Beaumarchais. New York: Coward-McCann, 1963.
Orczy, Baroness Emmuska. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. New York: Akadine, 1999.
---. The Scarlet Pimpernel. New York: Pocket, 2004.
Ruskin, Ariane. Spy for Liberty: The Adventurous Life of Beaumarchais, Playwright and Secret Agent for the American Revolution New York: Pantheon, 1965.
Photo Credit: Orczy, Baroness Emmuska, The Scarlet Pimpernel. New York: Dodd, 1964.


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