Frances Hill, nicknamed Fanny is the main character of the story. The approach of the story is biographical presented through a letter (not really a correspondence since Fanny only allude to a communication or an order sent to her by a person she only addressed as “Madam” in her salutation). Fanny, as evidenced with her coming from the countryside (“small village near Liverpool, in Lancashire”) still carries that quaint modesty, even apologetic of her situation or profession.
At the start of her narrative, there was a necessity to mention her parents, although those lines weren’t so interesting with her countenance. She mentioned that they are poor but honest, having a father (name not mentioned) who makes the nets settled down to that trade because of an injury. On the other hand, her mother (name not mentioned), whom Fanny said runs a day-school for the neighborhood, who taught her the basics (reading, writing and some “female” work) as well as the virtues (“a total ignorance of vice, and the shy timidity”).
Fanny mentioned that she has siblings but she’s the only who survived, all having died young. By the age of 15, her parents died of smallpox; father first then her mother whose death was coupled by grief. Since her parents came to that area by accident, there are no relatives to take care of her now that she’s orphaned. Her journey into the world of pleasure started here. Object: Her Feelings towards Other People Her first “benefactor” is Esther Davis, who carried her to London providing all the necessary things for her on the journey promising her for work in the city.
At first Fanny was fond of her because of her generosity, only to find later that the latter will leave her alone. Esther, nonetheless advised Fanny to go the so called “Intelligence Office” to inquire for work. At the Office, Fanny met Mrs. Brown who promised her work as a “companion” in her house. Fanny too found her likable but when Mrs. Brown presented her to an old man (Mr. Croft), she later dreaded. Her room-mate, Phoebe opened Fanny’s sexual desires through woman-woman “intercourse” and peeping at people having sex (Mrs. Brown and a beau, and others).
Fanny didn’t mentioned disliking her although she left Phoebe to escape with Charles, whom Fanny loved so much – the first man to break into her (first sexual intercourse with a man) with passion and sensuality. Eleven months after, Charles was tricked and carried on overseas, leaving the pregnant Fanny – she thought Charles will not return; grief-stricken, she had a miscarriage. The landlady of the House whom Fanny and Charles live, disposed of her by presenting her to Mr. H— (Fanny felt ill with that woman also) after the disappearance of Charles. Mr.
H— transferred Fanny to a new residence, giving her all her needs but kept as a mistress – a situation she find necessary (she didn’t feel any love or hate towards Mr. H—). When Fanny witnessed an incident where Mr. H— “abused” her maid, she was humiliated and took revenge by seducing Mr. H—‘s messenger, William. She liked him because of his country physique and innocent attitude – and that big “machine” he has. At the end, Mr. H— discovered their secret liaison and drove Fanny out (in a more decent way), giving her time to leave, money and provisions.
In here, Fanny met Mrs. Cole, who kept women of pleasure (Emily, Harriet, and Louisa) but maintaining decency and integrity as a mask to wantonness, whom she fondly called her “temporal mother”. She went through many men, with different views on pleasure – from soft loving to masochism. Her relationship to these women (Mrs. Cole and the girls), according to her was amiable with no qualms at all and she liked them very much. Although with this situation, they cannot be together since the ladies are one by one left Mrs. Cole to be with their men.
In the end, Mrs. Cole retired and gave Fanny her freedom and provision. Fanny never gave up her fondness to Mrs. Cole. Finally, Fanny met an Old Gentleman whom she helped from dying and accepted her as a partner without regard to her past. She then consequently left the profession for good. In the long run, the man died leaving her a good fortune to where she resolved to search for is only love – Charles. They were reunited by accident while she’s on a journey back to her hometown. Charles’ love is also undying and they were united, leaving behind their past.
Fanny Hill is quite an interesting story. Although it talks about sex and considered erotica – banned for distribution for a long time, even to the 20th century, the theme doesn’t reflect sexuality. It was about love, friendship and forgiveness. The conclusion of the story shows that Fanny can never forget Mrs. Cole and the girls because of the friendship, her undying love to Charles and the forgiveness of Charles; the good fortune that was granted to her by the Old Gentleman because he accepts her despite her past had been given emphasis to how we should live.
Fanny then saw the world not as a harsh environment but a world with great hope for people. As Fanny concluded, “Thus temperance makes men lords over those pleasures that intemperance enslaves them to: the one, parent of health, vigor, fertility, cheerfulness, and every other desirable good of life; the other, of diseases, debility, barrenness, self-loathing, with only every evil incident to human nature. ” Feminism Point of View There was no mention whatsoever of the two sexes being divided, being better or lesser than the other.
In the story, however it is clear that much of the narrative talks about women submission to men. In addition, Fanny keeps on telling what a woman is and should be as evidenced in the opening of the story where she said that her education was, “general to our sex” and referred the males as “of the stronger sex”. Yet this is not the case, Fanny always look at things by “cause-and-effect”, meaning that every action she and other people did are viewed as natural to the sexes. She didn’t hate men by their sexual appetite but justifies that it was the desires that led them to do these things.
She too accepted that her desires oftentimes led her to be consumed in sex, submitting to the man; not because she’s a lesser creature but because she enjoyed the encounter. All the while, there is still a doubt as to the stories these women told. Frankly, women are not aroused by seeing people naked – it’s a man thing – even as they are curious. On the other hand, it can be argued that because Fanny was “initiated” by a woman, the pleasure and desire she had is valid at this point. Women are aroused by sensitizing the body (skin and other part) but least sensitized by sight.
As to who’s the better between the sexes, Fanny’s narratives never allude to anything of that sort. Being a woman of desire led her to submit to the desires of men. Yet neither implied or not, it could be interpreted that men are weak… most of the narratives of sexual encounters put male first to take advantage of a naked woman. It can be concluded as man’s weakness. Fanny in most times seduced many men and they didn’t refused – not a single character in the story. The men seemed cannot hold themselves, impatient and sex-craved – ready to give all their fortune for the pleasure of their rods – Mr.
Croft, Mr. H—, the men who deflowered the girls under Mrs. Cole, William and even Charles. On the other hand, Fanny is like any woman of her time or even in this time. She complained of her loneliness after losing her men. She also has the idea that men can save her, especially when she found Charles. Maybe, women are treated as inferior during that time and men have the stature in society, a voice and the power to move. Many psychologists argued that his is the cause of a psychosocial phenomenon called the “Cinderella Syndrome” where women cannot live without a man.
Even as Fanny had “inherited” a quite good sum as said in the last part of the narrative, she felt half-filled without a man. In the end, the story was viewed in a straight-forwardness and realism. The sexual desires of men were viewed in a manner that is true to its time or throughout time – where e cannot hold control of it. The women too were represented as what is, true to that period who fell empty without a man. Thus, it is as if saying – woman needs man and man must have his mate. Economics of the Story
Most stories have characters which are driven into an act because of certain inevitable circumstances. Fanny Hill is not an exemption to this. As said in the story, her parents died, leaving her impoverished and orphaned without support from anybody in the country. Fanny was quite unfortunate to have experienced such things in her life but she has to live and go on. On the event of opportunity, she accepts the help of Esther Davis, who promised her a good prospect. Although in her mind, she knew too well what will become of her in the city – she pushed on lest she starve.
While left in the city, her fears grew stronger making it a necessity to accept whatever help she could get – such that many people were lured on a good prospect only to realize that they be exploited later on. She never took heed of her intuitions anyway. When she found Charles, it was a relief for her because she escaped from the clutches of Mrs. Brown. Her position as Charles’ mistress made her mind at ease – so she clung with it (also for the fact that she loved Charles). It was always of necessity that Fanny went into the profession when in a circumstance, Charles disappeared.
Without the prospect of having a living to feed her self again, it is quite natural to accept the advances of Mr. H—. Fanny never thought of affluence – she even loathed other women when she was with Mr. H—, because they were avaricious. In short, the only reason for going into the profession was that only of security, to secure the basic needs for life – to survive. This necessity again happened when, through her carelessness was driven away by Mr. H—. Although, Mr. H— left her with something for provision, she cannot shake herself from the thought that she will be impoverished again.
While, it is not important for Fanny to be affluent, she needed a more “decent” situation – meaning she doesn’t want to be on the streets. To conclude, Fanny became a woman of pleasure because she has been trained for that profession. It’s the only skill she has to fill the necessities in her life. Financial Value Of course, the book was published during the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Marx said that, “the ruling idea of an era is the ideology of the ruling class” – being the industrialist as the ruling class and the idea on anything is commodity.
It seems that John Cleland had been influenced by that idea all along – or Fanny in that sense. Her body had been a commodity, as if goods to be peddled and sold. Fanny always relates her vagina or breast or body as “wares”, seeming to be a commodity during the industrial era. Virginity too have special premium because the girls had to pretend that they are virgin and employed different decoys to show that they are when they were with Mrs. Cole. Maybe then this can appraise a higher price than those that are experienced.
The worst, the commodity is acquired in a sort of a rent – having to place the women in a house where men visit to rent the time and pleasure of the body of the women as when she was with Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Cole. While she was with Charles and Mr. H—, it was as if she’s on a long-term lease. Mr. H— kept her as his mistress ready at any time for his pleasure, as with other women mentioned by Fanny in the story. Quite funny though that Fanny always refers to the penis as a machine – as if it too has industrial financial value.
Fetishism There are many fetishes in the story. Anatomy has always been a pleasure of the author of the story. For one, the Breast were given importance and admiration – when Fanny, who still have an underdeveloped ones envied the roundness and plumpness of her companions and it goes on all throughout the story. It’s always the bosom that the men hold in the encounter as well as the ones that aroused them. Next, the labia had always been mentioned, especially the redness, the swelling and the wetness of it.
Interestingly, the pubic hair attracted Fanny so much being able to relate how they curled, how they form into the pubic area – the extent of the hairs as well as the color. In the other hand, the penis’ form also had been extensively narrated. Fanny and the other girls relate how big and how stiff the “machine” is. Further, the veins and the color of the “machine” aroused the women, giving special attention to the narrative. Fanny also has an attraction to the skin, the fairness of it and the smoothness. She also mentioned the thighs and the arms, the groin and the back.
But there are other non-sexual objects being considered fetishes here. Fanny never forgot to mention about food and dining, the tea as well as the couch – to where mostly the encounters happened. Justification Fanny never regretted her being a woman of pleasure. Although she has many untoward experiences, she seemed to have enjoyed the sexual pleasures (even pains). She has no qualms of the exploitation done because she justified that it was her job. At great lengths, it was also out of necessity to survive. She was even obliged to return the favor of pleasure especially when she too got pleasure from it.
Objectification of Men Of course, Fanny Hill has to survive, thus the men who have money can buy pleasure. Yet this is not really the case, Fanny and the other girls haven’t seen men as money-mills if pleasure is for pleasure’s sake. The story of the girls having sex for the first time was not about money – they’re about experiencing the pleasure. Men were the objects of pleasure for Fanny especially when she has special interest to them – Charles whom she loved with passion consumed for it and William, whom she admired so much for his innocence and country-side attributes.
If one will observe, men who pays for the pleasure were seldom revealed as to name or anything. Fanny seemed to be detached from these men, maybe because she didn’t took pleasure from them. Those that gave here much pleasure were specially mentioned, she even accepts that they can’t be forgotten.
Resources: ebook http://books. eserver. org/fiction/fannyhill/ http://ebooks. adelaide. edu. au/c/cleland/john/c624f/ Resources: audiobook http://librivox. org/fanny-hill-memoirs-of-a-woman-of-pleasure-by-john-cleland/ http://www. gutenberg. org/etext/20028