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Joshua Woods Honors Eng. 11 03-22-12

The Coquette: A Shallow Flirt

In Joseph Addison’s The Spectator No. 281: Dissection of a Coquette’s Heart, he is the narrator as he takes the reader along with him through the dissection of a coquette in a dream of his. Addison describes the heart as comprised of three layers: the “Pericardium”, the “Mucro”, and the inner chambers of the heart. Addison describes the “Pericardium” as impenetrable with “Millions of little Scars...occasioned by the Points of innumerable Darts and Arrows...”(¶4) With this, it is seen that the coquette is shallow as she has had many courters yet she does not take one and commit. “Upon examining this Liqour,...which is made use of in the Thermometer,” (¶5) describes how the liquid of her heart fluctuates in temperature to that which gets it “heated.” In order to warm the coquette’s “Liquor,” a man of style of fashion or foppery would have to be present, whereas a man of science made her temperature drop. The use of verisimilitude in the article gives the reader a sense of realism while the whole time, the satire is prevalent in the outlandish analogies made to other objects. Having a heart “wound up in a Gordian Knot”( ¶8) gives the reader a sense of realism in the fact that many coquettes may be hard to woo over entirely, yet the realistic certainty of a heart’s capillaries, veins, and arteries being wound up in an intricate knot naturally is just surreal. The satiric technique is also used to describe the heart as comprised of “Multitudes of Cells and Cavities”(¶11) each corresponding to the “Addresses of several who made Love to her.”( ¶12) This description displays the flagrant fact that she has been regarded as a thing of compassion to more than a handful of courters. Yet upon inspection of the central-most chamber and “applying [his] Glasses to it,”( ¶12) Addison found that the recently deceased Beau was within it. Is this coincidence or merely Addison conveying to the public that such people are made for each other? Or is it the fact that the beau is the ideal lover and no coquette would be in their right mind to commit to anyone less? With his literary work, Addison has surely made this vixen into a woman with a heart “like a smooth Piece of Ice.”( ¶7)