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son, male or female, to write a general assessment of William Shakespeare as a dramatist. While Dryden's writings became far more famous, Cavendish's was the first and presents an interesting evaluation of Shakespeare's representation of women.

The writings of Margaret Cavendish afford a valuable record of the life of the aristocratic woman, an affirmation of the female's limited role in English life, and the ability of select individuals to overcome some of those limits. Despite Margaret's willingness to abide by the general hierarchy of male dominance, she achieved significant power within her specific domestic sphere. Granted free rein by her husband to use her time as she pleased, she suffered little under so-called social restraints. She represents one example of the inconsistencies in England's social order as she defied the social edict against writing and thinking women. Perhaps most importantly, Margaret Cavendish's prolific publishing career contributed to a significant change in the 17th century, a gradual shift from an allmale publishing world at the century's beginning to one that by the dawn of the 18th century was forced to include women.

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