The Blazing World

by

Margaret Cavendish

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The Empress Character Analysis

The book’s protagonist is a young noblewoman who gets abducted by a traveling merchant and accidentally finds herself stranded in the Blazing World. She then meets the Emperor, who believes that she is a goddess and falls in love with her. He decides to marry her, make her Empress, and give her absolute power over everything in this new world. Besides slightly changing the kingdom’s religion and system of government, the Empress primarily uses this new power to learn everything that she possibly can from the Blazing World’s wisest creatures. She tries to make her own contribution to the Blazing World’s advanced philosophy by developing her own Cabbala, and instead she ends up forming a deep Platonic friendship with her scribe, the Duchess of Newcastle (Cavendish herself). At the end of the book, the Empress assembles an army and invades the world she originally came from in order to defend her native country and create a system of absolute monarchy under the King of ESFI. Notably, when she returns to her world, like when she first reached the Blazing World, others treat her as a goddess. Cavendish uses the Empress’s eccentric life and decisions to make crucial points about knowledge, society, and power. Most importantly, the Empress reflects Cavendish’s personal fantasy of ruling the world, as well as two different political fantasies: restoring the English monarchy to absolute power and creating a world in which women truly could rule over men (just as men ruled over women in Cavendish’s real world). Next, the Empress’s interest in science and philosophy reflects Cavendish’s belief that these disciplines are the secret to understanding—and therefore controlling—the universe. Similarly, Cavendish uses the Empress’s interest in Cabbala and imagination to highlight the way that she has imagined the Blazing World into existence, and to show how fantasizing about alternate worlds and lives can actually be an intellectually and personally transformative process. Thus, the Empress serves as a role model and character foil for the Duchess Cavendish—both the Duchess who wrote the book and the Duchess who appears in it.

The Empress Quotes in The Blazing World

The The Blazing World quotes below are all either spoken by The Empress or refer to The Empress. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
).
To the Reader Quotes

Though I cannot be Henry the Fifth, or Charles the Second, yet I endeavour to be Margaret the First; and although I have neither power, time nor occasion to conquer the world as Alexander and Caesar did; yet rather than not to be mistress of one, since Fortune and the Fates would give me none, I have made a world of my own: for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every one’s power to do the like.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), Fortune, The Empress
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1 Quotes

But alas! those few men which were in it, not knowing whither they went, nor what was to be done in so strange an adventure, and not being provided for so cold a voyage, were all frozen to death, the young Lady only, by the light of her beauty, the heat of her youth, and protection of the gods, remaining alive: neither was it a wonder that the men did freeze to death; for they were not only driven to the very end or point of the Pole of that world, but even to another Pole of another world, which joined close to it; so that the cold having a double strength at the conjunction of those two Poles, was insupportable: at last, the boat still passing on, was forced into another world.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress
Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 125-6
Explanation and Analysis:

They made their ships and tacklings ready to sail over into the island, where the Emperor of their Blazing World (for so it was called) kept his residence; very good navigators they were; […] above the rest, they had an extraordinary art, much to be taken notice of by experimental philosophers, and that was a certain engine, which would draw in a great quantity of air, and shoot forth wind with a great force; this engine in a calm, they placed behind their ships, and in a storm, before; for it served against the raging waves, like canons against an hostile army, or besieged town.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Emperor
Page Number: 128-9
Explanation and Analysis:

No sooner was the Lady brought before the Emperor, but he conceived her to be some goddess, and offered to worship her; which she refused, telling him, (for by that time she had pretty well learned their language) that although she came out of another world, yet was she but a mortal; at which the Emperor rejoicing, made her his wife, and gave her an absolute power to rule and govern all that world as she pleased. But her subjects, who could hardly be persuaded to believe her mortal, tendered her all the veneration and worship due to a deity.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Emperor
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

The bear-men being exceedingly troubled at her Majesty’s displeasure concerning their telescopes, kneeled down, and in the humblest manner petitioned that they might not be broken; for, said they, we take more delight in artificial delusions, than in natural truths. Besides, we shall want employments for our senses, and subjects for arguments; for were there nothing but truth, and no falsehood, there would be no occasion for to dispute, and by this means we should want the aim and pleasure of our endeavours in confuting and contradicting each other; neither would one man be thought wiser than another, but all would either be alike knowing and wise, or all would be fools; wherefore we most humbly beseech your Imperial Majesty to spare our glasses, which are our only delight, and as dear to us as our lives.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Bear-Men
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

How is it possible, that a natural nothing can have a being in nature? If it be no substance, it cannot have a being, and if no being, it is nothing; […] all parts of nature are composed in one body, and though they may be infinitely divided, commixed and changed in their particulars, yet in general, parts cannot be separated from parts as long as nature lasts; nay, we might as probably affirm, that infinite nature would be as soon destroyed, as that one atom could perish; and therefore your Majesty may firmly believe, that there is no body without colour, nor no colour without body; for colour, figure, place, magnitude, and body, are all but one thing, without any separation or abstraction from each other.

Related Characters: The Worm-Men (speaker), The Empress
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Both by my own contemplation, and the observations which I have made by my rational and sensitive perception upon nature, and her works, I find, that nature is but one infinite self-moving body, which by the virtue of its self-motion, is divided into infinite parts, which parts being restless, undergo perpetual changes and transmutations by their infinite compositions and divisions. Now, if this be so, as surely, according to regular sense and reason, it appears no otherwise; it is in vain to look for primary ingredients, or constitutive principles of natural bodies, since there is no more but one universal principle of nature, to wit, self-moving matter, which is the only cause of all natural effects.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker), The Ape-Men
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus they argued, and intended to go on, but the Empress interrupted them: I have enough, said she, of your chopped logic, and will hear no more of your syllogisms; for it disorders my reason, and puts my brain on the rack; your formal argumentations are able to spoil all natural wit; and I’ll have you to consider, that art does not make reason, but reason makes art; and therefore as much as reason is above art, so much is a natural rational discourse to be preferred before an artificial: for art is, for the most part, irregular, and disorders men’s understandings more than it rectifies them, and leads them into a labyrinth whence they’ll never get out, and makes them dull and unfit for useful employments; especially your art of logic, which consists only in contradicting each other, in making sophisms, and obscuring truth, instead of clearing it.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker)
Page Number: 161-2
Explanation and Analysis:

And thus the Empress, by art, and her own ingenuity, did not only convert the Blazing World to her own religion, but kept them in a constant belief, without enforcement or blood-shed; for she knew well, that belief was a thing not to be forced or pressed upon the people, but to be instilled into their minds by gentle persuasions; and after this manner she encouraged them also in all other duties and employments, for fear, though it makes people obey, yet does it not last so long, nor is it so sure a means to keep them to their duties, as love.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress
Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

She asked further, which of these two Cabbalas was most approved, the natural, or theological? The theological, answered they, is mystical, and belongs only to faith; but the natural belongs to reason. Then she asked them, whether divine faith was made out of reason? No, answered they, for faith proceeds only from a divine saving grace, which is a peculiar gift of God. How comes it then, replied she, that men, even those that are of several opinions, have faith more or less? A natural belief, answered they, is not a divine faith. But, proceeded the Empress, how are you sure that God cannot be known? The several opinions you mortals have of God, answered they, are sufficient witnesses thereof.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker), The Immaterial Spirits (speaker)
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:

She asked again, whether they were none of those spirits that frighted Adam out of the Paradise, at least caused him not to return thither again? They answered they were not. Then she desired to be informed, whither Adam fled when he was driven out of the Paradise? Out of this world, said they, you are now Empress of, into the world you came from.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker), The Immaterial Spirits (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

Then I will have, answered she, the soul of some ancient famous writer, either of Aristotle, Pythagoras, Plato, Epicurus, or the like. The spirit said, that those famous men were very learned, subtle, and ingenious writers, but they were so wedded to their own opinions, that they would never have the patience to be scribes. Then, said she, I’ll have the soul of one of the most famous modern writers, as either of Galileo, Gassendus, Descartes, Helmont, Hobbes, H. More, etc. The spirit answered, that they were fine ingenious writers, but yet so self-conceited, that they would scorn to be scribes to a woman. But, said he, there’s a lady, the Duchess of Newcastle, which although she is not one of the most learned, eloquent, witty and ingenious, yet is she a plain and rational writer, for the principle of her writings, is sense and reason.

Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

If your Majesty were resolved to make a Cabbala, I would advise you, rather to make a poetical or romancical Cabbala, wherein you can use metaphors, allegories, similitudes, etc. and interpret them as you please.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress (speaker), The Duchess (speaker), The Duke of Newcastle
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

We wonder, proceeded the spirits, that you desire to be Empress of a terrestrial world, when as you can create your self a celestial world if you please. What, said the Empress, can any mortal be a creator? Yes, answered the spirits; for every human creature can create an immaterial world fully inhabited by immaterial creatures, and populous of immaterial subjects, such as we are, and all this within the compass of the head or scull. […] And since it is in your power to create such a world, what need you to venture life, reputation and tranquility, to conquer a gross material world? For you can enjoy no more of a material world than a particular creature is able to enjoy, which is but a small part.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Immaterial Spirits (speaker), The Empress (speaker), The Duchess, Fortune
Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 185-6
Explanation and Analysis:

[The Duchess] resolved to make a world of her own invention, and this world was composed of sensitive and rational self-moving matter; indeed, it was composed only of the rational, which is the subtlest and purest degree of matter; [… this] world after it was made, appeared so curious and full of variety, so well ordered and wisely governed, that it cannot possibly be expressed by words, nor the delight and pleasure which the Duchess took in making this world of her own.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Duchess
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

Lest the Emperor, or any of his subjects should know of her travel, and obstruct her design, she sent for some of the spirits she had formerly conversed withal, and enquired whether none of them could supply the place of her soul in her body at such a time, when she was gone to travel into another world? They answered, yes, they could; for not only one, said they, but many spirits may enter into your body, if you please.

Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus those two female souls travelled together as lightly as two thoughts into the Duchess her native world; and which is remarkable, in a moment viewed all the parts of it, and all the actions of all the creatures therein, especially did the Empress’s soul take much notice of the several actions of human creatures in all the several nations and parts of that world, and wondered that for all there were so many several nations, governments, laws, religions, opinions, etc. they should all yet so generally agree in being ambitious, proud, self-conceited, vain, prodigal, deceitful, envious, malicious, unjust, revengeful, irreligious, factious, etc.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Emperor, The Duchess
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

When the soul of the Empress viewed the King and Queen, she seemed to be in amaze, which the Duchess’s soul perceiving, asked the Empress how she liked the King, the Queen, and all the royal race? She answered, that in all the monarchs she had seen in that world, she had not found so much majesty and affability mixed so exactly together, that none did overshadow or eclipse the other; and as for the Queen, she said, that virtue sat triumphant in her face, and piety was dwelling in her heart, and that all the royal family seemed to be endued with a divine splendour: but when she had heard the King discourse, she believed, that Mercury and Apollo had been his celestial instructors; and my dear lord and husband, added the Duchess, has been his earthly governor.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Duchess (speaker), The Empress (speaker), The Duke of Newcastle
Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:

But one thing I forgot all this while, which is, that although thoughts are the natural language of souls, yet by reason souls cannot travel without vehicles, they use such language as the nature and propriety of their vehicles require, and the vehicles of those two souls being made of the purest and finest sort of air, and of a human shape; this purity and fineness was the cause that they could neither be seen nor heard by any human creature; when as, had they been of some grosser sort of air, the sound of that air’s language would have been as perceptible as the blowing of Zephyrus.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Duchess
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

The Duke’s soul being wise, honest, witty, complaisant and noble, afforded such delight and pleasure to the Empress’s soul by her conversation, that these two souls became enamoured of each other; which the Duchess’s soul perceiving, grew jealous at first, but then considering that no adultery could be committed amongst Platonic lovers, and that Platonism was divine, as being derived from divine Plato, cast forth of her mind that Idea of jealousy. Then the conversation of these three souls was so pleasant, that it cannot be expressed; for the Duke’s soul entertained the Empress’s soul with scenes, songs, music, witty discourses, pleasant recreations, and all kinds of harmless sports; so that the time passed away faster than they expected.

Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 194-5
Explanation and Analysis:

First, I desire, your Imperial Majesty may know, that this Duke who complains or exclaims so much against me, hath been always my enemy; for he has preferred Honesty and Prudence before me, and slighted all my favours; nay, not only thus, but he did fight against me, and preferred his innocence before my power. His friends Honesty and Prudence, said he most scornfully, are more to be regarded, than inconstant Fortune, who is only a friend to fools and knaves; for which neglect and scorn, whether I have not just reason to be his enemy, your Majesty may judge yourself.

Page Number: 196-7
Explanation and Analysis:

Fortune hearing thus Honesty’s plain speech, thought it very rude, and would not hearken to Truth’s judgement, but went away in a passion: at which, both the Empress and Duchess were extremely troubled, that their endeavours should have no better effect: but Honesty chid the Duchess, and said, she was to be punished for desiring so much Fortune’s favours; for it appears, said she, that you mistrust the gods’ blessings: at which the Duchess wept, answering Honesty, that she did neither mistrust the gods’ blessings, nor rely upon Fortune’s favours; but desired only that her lord might have no potent enemies.

Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

The Duchess answered, that since she heard by her Imperial Majesty, how well and happily the world had been governed when she first came to be Empress thereof, she would advise her Majesty to introduce the same form of government again, which had been before; that is, to have but one sovereign, one religion, one law, and one language, so that all the world might be but as one united family, without divisions; nay, like God, and his blessed saints and angels: otherwise, said she, it may in time prove as unhappy, nay, as miserable a world as that is from which I came.

Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

The Empress before she came in sight of the enemy, sent some of her fish- and bird-men to bring her intelligence of their fleet; and hearing of their number, their station and posture, she gave order that when it was night, her bird-men should carry in their beaks some of the mentioned fire-stones, with the tops thereof wetted; and the fish-men should carry them likewise, and hold them out of the water; for they were cut in the form of torches or candles, and being many thousands, made a terrible show; for it appeared as if all the air and sea had been of a flaming fire; and all that were upon the sea, or near it, did verily believe, the time of judgement, or the last day was come, which made them all fall down, and pray.

Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

If I had long speeched councillors, replied the Empress, I would hang them, by reason they give more words, than advice. The Duchess answered, that Her Majesty should not be angry, but consider the differences of that and her Blazing World; for, said she, they are not both alike; but there are grosser and duller understandings in this, than in the Blazing World.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker), The Duchess (speaker)
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

The Empress appeared upon the face of the water in her imperial robes; in some part of her hair she had placed some of the star-stone, near her face, which added such a lustre and glory to it, that it caused a great admiration in all that were present, who believed her to be some celestial creature, or rather an uncreated goddess, and they all had a desire to worship her; for surely, said they, no mortal creature can have such a splendid and transcendent beauty, nor can any have so great a power as she has, to walk upon the waters, and to destroy whatever she pleases, not only whole nations, but a whole world.

Related Symbols: Fire, Blazes, and Light
Page Number: 214-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Great, heroic, and famous monarchs: I came hither to assist the King of ESFI against his enemies, he being unjustly assaulted by many several nations, which would fain take away his hereditary rights and prerogatives of the narrow seas; at which unjustice Heaven was much displeased; and for the injuries he received from his enemies, rewarded him with an absolute power, so that now he is become the head-monarch of all this world; which power, though you may envy, yet you can no ways hinder him; for all those that endeavour to resist his power, shall only get loss for their labour, and no victory for their profit. Wherefore my advice to you all is, to pay him tribute justly and truly, that you may live peaceably and happily, and be rewarded with the blessings of Heaven, which I wish you from my soul.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker), The King of ESFI
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

ln time of the voyage, both the Empress’s and Duchess’s soul were very gay and merry, and sometimes they would converse very seriously with each other.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Duchess
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

The Empress asked, are those good plays that are made so methodically and artificially? The Duchess answered, they were good according to the judgement of the age, or mode of the nation, but not according to her judgement; for truly, said she, in my opinion, their plays will prove a nursery of whining lovers, and not an academy or school for wise, witty, noble, and well-behaved men. But I, replied the Emperor, desire such a theatre as may make wise men; and will have such descriptions as are natural, not artificial. If Your Majesty be of that opinion, said the Duchess’s soul, then my plays may be acted in your Blazing World, when they cannot be acted in the Blinking World of Wit; and the next time I come to visit Your Majesty, I shall endeavour to order Your Majesty’s theatre, to present such plays as my wit is capable to make.

Related Characters: The Empress (speaker), The Duchess (speaker), The Emperor (speaker), Margaret Cavendish, The Duke of Newcastle
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

Were there but a passage out of the Blazing World into this, said she, you should not only have some of those horses, but such materials, as the Emperor has, to build your stables and riding-houses withal; and so much gold, that I should never repine at your noble and generous gifts. The Duke smilingly answered her, that he was sorry there was no passage between those two worlds; but said he, I have always found an obstruction to my good fortunes.

Related Characters: The Duchess (speaker), The Duke of Newcastle (speaker), The Empress, Fortune
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

One time the Duchess chanced to discourse with some of her acquaintance, of the Empress of the Blazing World, who asked her what pastimes and recreations Her Majesty did most delight in? The Duchess answered, that she spent most of her time in the study of natural causes and effects, which was her chief delight and pastime, and that she loved to discourse sometimes with the most learned persons of that world.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Duchess
Page Number: 221-2
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

By this poetical description, you may perceive, that my ambition is not only to be Empress, but Authoress of a whole world; and that the worlds I have made, both the Blazing and the other Philosophical World, mentioned in the first part of this description, are framed and composed of the most pure, that is, the rational parts of matter, which are the parts of my mind; which creation was more easily and suddenly effected, than the conquests of the two famous monarchs of the world, Alexander and Caesar: neither have I made such disturbances, and caused so many dissolutions of particulars, otherwise named deaths, as they did; for I have destroyed but some few men in a little boat, which died through the extremity of cold, and that by the hand of Justice, which was necessitated to punish their crime of stealing away a young and beauteous Lady.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

If any should like the world I have made, and be willing to be my subjects, they may imagine themselves such, and they are such, I mean, in their minds, fancies or imaginations; but if they cannot endure to be subjects, they may create worlds of their own, and govern themselves as they please: but yet let them have a care, not to prove unjust usurpers, and to rob me of mine; for concerning the Philosophical World, I am Empress of it myself; and as for the Blazing World, it having an Empress already, who rules it with great wisdom and conduct, which Empress is my dear Platonic friend; I shall never prove so unjust, treacherous and unworthy to her, as to disturb her government, much less to depose her from her imperial throne, for the sake of any other; but rather choose to create another world for another friend.

Related Characters: Margaret Cavendish (speaker), The Empress, The Duchess
Page Number: 224-5
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Blazing World PDF

The Empress Character Timeline in The Blazing World

The timeline below shows where the character The Empress appears in The Blazing World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Gender Hierarchy and Women’s Freedom Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
A traveling merchant sailor falls in love with a wealthy young noblewoman in a foreign land. The Lady will never marry him because of his low status,... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
...over into this other world, and it sails down a stream between two ice-covered landmasses. The young Lady sees a group of bear-like creatures that walk on two legs, like humans, and speak... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The “bear-men” realize that the Lady isn’t used to the cold climate, so they take her to a warmer island, where... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The bear-men, fox-men, bird-men, satyrs, and green people sail the Lady across the sea to the Emperor’s island. Their navigation techniques and knowledge of the sea... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
...ringed by steep cliffs. Another fleet of boats sets out from the shore to meet the Lady . The narrator explains that the Blazing World is harmonious and peaceful because everyone submits... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Gender Hierarchy and Women’s Freedom Theme Icon
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
...[the blazing] world.” Her royal subjects continue to worship her like a goddess. Once declared Empress, she wears clothing made of pearls and diamonds, which clearly identify her as royalty. (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Emperor and Empress have infinite gold and jewels, and they oversee an extensive barter economy. Their kingdom’s common... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
The Empress asks the statesmen and priests to tell her about the kingdom’s government and religion. The... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Next, the architects tell the Empress that the kingdom’s houses are built low to protect them from the elements, with thick... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The bird-men (who are astronomers) tell the Empress about their world’s splendid sun and sparkling moon, which are both made of stone. They... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress asks the bear-men (natural philosophers) to test the bird-men’s theories with their telescopes, but the... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The bear-men thank the Empress by taking out a microscope and showing her several extraordinary small objects, like a fly’s... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Next, the fish-men and worm-men tell the Empress about animals in the sea and on land. The fish-men discuss the salt in the... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress asks about reproduction, and the worm- and fish-men also explain that, in some animals, the... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress asks the ape-men (who are chemists) to test the hypothesis that moderate heat creates gold,... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress asks the worm-men whether minerals are colorless, but the worm-men say that everything has to... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress next meets with the ape-men, who explain how they have found that all natural bodies... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The ape-men tell the Empress how the imperial people live for hundreds of years, without seeming to age. They use... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress next assembles the anatomists, herbalists, and satyrs (who are followers of the ancient Greek physician... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress talks with several other groups. The spider-men (mathematicians) show her their designs of lines and... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
...one of the parrot-men gets confused during a complicated speech and publicly humiliates himself. The Empress tells the orators to focus less on eloquence and more on ideas. Next, the logicians... (full context)
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress concludes that all the people in this world have a defective religion, as they have... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Monarchy and Government Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The bird-men tell the Empress about a mountain that burns because a rock inside it bursts into flame when it’s... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Next, the Empress starts to wonder about the state of her own original world. She decides that the... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress is surprised to learn that spirits have memories and can forget, but the spirits explain... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress continues asking the spirits about the Cabbala. She asks how many parts it has—usually two,... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress next asks whether God is made of Ideas or Cabbala. The spirits respond that God... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
Next, the Empress asks the spirits whether they are what make physical beings move, and they say no—in... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress asks the spirits if people are “little world[s],” and they say yes—so are flies, worms,... (full context)
Fiction, Fancy, and Utopia Theme Icon
Gender Hierarchy and Women’s Freedom Theme Icon
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The Empress asks the spirits whether they were the ones who drove Adam out of Paradise, and... (full context)
Philosophy, Science, and Religion Theme Icon
The spirits also tell the Empress that matter was not all liquid at the beginning of the universe, and it’s impossible... (full context)
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The spirits clarify many more of the Empress’s doubts. The Empress asks whether the stars and planets come from the heavens, or from... (full context)
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The Empress asks the spirits about what Plato’s followers call “three principles of man”—the intellect, the soul,... (full context)
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The spirits tell the Empress that the mortal soul isn’t the same thing as an immaterial spirit, and that it... (full context)
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...(or soul). While divine souls and spirits have life without bodies, souls need bodies. The Empress compares the soul to the sun and the body to the moon, but the spirits... (full context)
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When the Empress asks whether the serpent tempted Eve because of an evil spirit, the spirits reply that... (full context)
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The Empress asks whether the first humans ate better food than the beasts who lived around them,... (full context)
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...they disobeyed God, but they declare that they don’t know why, and they ask the Empress not to keep inquiring about the topic. The Empress apologizes for her curiosity, but the... (full context)
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The Empress tells the worm-men and fly-men that she feels deeply guilty about accidentally getting the spirits... (full context)
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The spirits offer to send the Empress one of their own as a scribe, and she agrees. They ask whose body she... (full context)
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The Duchess of Newcastle appears to the Empress and apologizes for her poor handwriting, but the Empress declares that one of her secretaries... (full context)
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The Empress agrees with the Duchess and decides to write a “philosophical Cabbala,” but the Duchess tells... (full context)
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Instead, the Duchess proposes that the Empress “make a poetical or romancical Cabbala, wherein you can use metaphors, allegories, similitudes, etc. and... (full context)
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On one of her visits to the Empress, the Duchess is visibly upset. She admits that this is because of her “extreme ambition”—she... (full context)
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The spirits explain that there are an endless number of different worlds, and the Empress asks if the Duchess can become an Empress in one of them. The spirits respond... (full context)
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...imagine an immaterial world instead of trying to conquer a material one. In fact, the Empress declares that she wants to do the same. (full context)
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The spirits leave, and the Duchess and Empress go about creating their celestial worlds. The Duchess tries basing her world on a series... (full context)
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Meanwhile, the Empress tries and fails to build several worlds of her own. The Duchess shows her world... (full context)
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The Empress wants to learn about the Duchess’s world, where many different governments live by many different... (full context)
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The Empress’s and Duchess’s souls travel together to the Duchess’s native world. The Empress sees how, even... (full context)
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The Duchess and Empress go looking for the best nation in the Duchess’s world. The Empress praises the Sultan... (full context)
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Next, the Duchess takes the Empress to meet the royal family at court, and the Empress declares that the King and... (full context)
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The Empress and Duchess reach Welbeck, the Duke’s estate in the Nottinghamshire woods. The Empress is impressed... (full context)
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The Duchess, Empress, and Duke’s souls are all in the Duke’s body. The Empress adores the Duke’s “wise,... (full context)
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A spirit visits and informs the Empress that she should return to the Blazing World, since her soul is deeply missing the... (full context)
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The Empress and the Duchess return to the Blazing World along with Prudence and Honesty. The spirits... (full context)
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...care so much about “Fortune’s favors” and trying to interfere with the gods’ decisions. The Empress asks what Prudence thinks, and Prudence replies that Honesty has gone too far. The Empress... (full context)
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But just before the Duchess leaves, the Empress asks for her advice about how to govern the Blazing World. Since the Empress changed... (full context)
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The Empress agrees to follow the Duchess’s advice, but she worries that it would seem disgraceful to... (full context)
The Second Part of the Description of the New Blazing World
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The Empress reorganizes the Blazing World’s laws and religion, and all is peaceful and quiet. But spirits... (full context)
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The Emperor is out of ideas, so he recommends that the Empress consult with the Duchess of Newcastle. She does, and the Duchess visits and promises to... (full context)
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Next, the Duchess declares that the Empress has to lead her troops into war. But the Duchess will accompany her by sending... (full context)
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The Empress follows the Duchess’s plan, and her army of bear-, bird-, worm-, and fish-men assembles at... (full context)
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The Empress writes her native country’s council of leaders to inform them that she is coming to... (full context)
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At one o’clock, the Empress appears to her country’s fleet. She wears shining clothing made of star-stone and appears to... (full context)
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The Empress meets with her country’s king and promises to help him become the most powerful leader... (full context)
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Next, the Empress goes after the countries with no navies, who trade and travel exclusively by land. The... (full context)
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The Empress repeats this over and over, until every country in her native world, except one, has... (full context)
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The “greatest princes” of this world all want to meet the Empress, so she agrees to reveal herself to them at sea before returning to the Blazing... (full context)
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The Empress returns to her ship, and her whole fleet sinks underwater and begins its trip back... (full context)
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However, the Empress promises that, if the Duchess can find a pathway between the Blazing World and her... (full context)
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The Empress reaches the Blazing World and returns to her palace. The Emperor and Empress joyously reunite.... (full context)
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...wants to return to her own world and see the Duke. Eventually, the Emperor and Empress agree to let her go, and she returns back to her own body. She tells... (full context)
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The Duchess also tells her acquaintances about the Blazing World. She explains how the Empress likes to discuss the nature of the world with learned scholars, how the Blazing World’s... (full context)
The Epilogue to The Reader
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Margaret Cavendish writes that she wants “not only to be Empress, but Authoress of a whole world.” Her Blazing World is made of pure rational thought,... (full context)