These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. The interesting thing about these nuns is the transience of their vows. It is due to these unusual features of the Begines that they inevitably become desirable to men. In a story with a story format, Miranda is told about the tragic past of Henrick by her maid.
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Assembling and interpreting a number of unexplored legal documents preserved in the Antwerp City Archives and the State Archives in Brussels, we aim to provide a much fuller and more accurate account of the events which inspired the composition of The Fair Jilt.
Behn may have derived some of this information from two printed sources which have so far escaped scholarly notice: the Hollandsche Mercurius , a Dutch yearbook which reported on the Tarquini court case, and an extensive, apologetic pamphlet authored or commissioned by Maria Theresia van Mechelen, and published in Most users should sign in with their email address.
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The Fair Jilt Summary
It is the first English novel written by a female writer. The story is dedicated to "Henry Pain, Esq. In The Fair Jilt , Behn claims that the story is true and that she witnessed much of it herself. Editor Montague Summers writes in his introduction to The Works of Aphra Behn that the story is only loosely based on actual events: "With all the nice skill of a born novelist she has so mingled fact and fancy, what did occur and what might have been, that any attempt to disentangle the twain would be idle indeed. When the story opens, young Miranda is living in a convent of Begines , an order of " galloping nuns "  who take only temporary vows. Her parents are dead and her younger sister, Alcidiana, lives with an uncle. The seeming unattainability of the Begines makes them more desirable to men, and Miranda is beautiful, accomplished, and wealthy.
A largely uninformed ramble through 17th, 18th and 19th century literature. Many books, a little history, and a great deal of caffeine. There was not a man of any quality that came to Antwerp, or passed through the city, but made it his business to see the lovely Miranda, who was universally adored. Her youth and beauty, her shape and majesty of mien and air of greatness, charmed all her beholders, and thousands of people were dying by her eyes, while she was vain enough to glory in her conquest, and make it her business to wound. But Miranda accepted their presents, heard their vows with pleasure, and willingly admitted all their soft addresses; but would not yield her heart, or give away that lovely person to the possession of one who could please itself with so many. This latter reaction is, however, a complete misreading of the text, which far from being intended to titillate is an ironic rumination upon deception, and the appalling things done in the all-excusing name of love.