restricted access Upsetting the Balance: Exposing the Myth of Masculine Virtue and Desire in Eliza Haywood's Philidore and Placentia


By exploring Eliza Haywood's subtle use of the formulaic genre of the romance, her structural use of repetition and textual balance, as well as her engagement with the contemporary neoclassical culture, this essay argues that Philidore and Placentia reveals the seedy motivations underpinning masculine desire. On the surface, Eliza Haywood's 1727 oriental romance follows the development of its hero, Philidore, into a virtuous lover along the path paved by neoclassical values of moderation and balance. However, it is precisely this myth of rational, masculine chivalry that Haywood explodes in her text. The novel ultimately suggests that masculine desire, is not the balance or partner of female passion; rather, it is stimulated by the protection of patriarchal interest, female objectification, and economic power.