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Fair Ladies

Sir Philip Sidney's Female Characters


Katherine Roberts

During his brief literary career, Sir Philip Sidney created three major works, The Old Arcadia, Astrophil and Stella, and The New Arcadia, in whichthe female characters became progressively stronger and more completely developed. A close examination of his major female characters - Gynecia, Stella,Cecropia, Philoclea, and Pamela - along with a study of commonplace Renaissance concepts about women, reveals that Sidney's female characters deviate considerably from the conventions of his time. Sidney may well have been influenced by the women in his family, his queen, and his religion in his creation of female characters who broke the boundaries of stereotypes.