A group of men and women escape from their own country and find refuge on an island. The women want to create a new society where they can enjoy equal participation in the establishment of a constitution, in the choice of leaders, and in the filling of every kind of public office. This is an extraordinary plot for a French play written during the first part of the 18th century. La Colonie (1729; second publication in 1750) by Marivaux is indeed a jewel for all research on feminism, even if, at the end of the play, things go back to normal: after having given stirring speeches on the rights of women, the two leaders, Arthénice and Madame Sorbin, fight against each other on the basis of class enmity. The great league of women has now fallen completely apart; the men have won, it would seem, and the women lost. The picture is not entirely bleak, however; at the end, there is at least a suggestion that the men may have learned something important about women and that the new constitution will reflect it.
Providence Forum: Language and Humanities, Vol.18, pp.87-106 靜宜人文學報