In the past I’ve had the urge to picture myself in other time periods: “Renaissance greenapril,” “Feudal Japan greenapril,” “World War II greenapril.” While I’ve never been a big fan of “17th century royalty greenapril” I have to say that I have now definitely abandoned that daydream.

This week I watched The Duchess. Wow. If you ever thought that it might be even a little romantic to marry a Duke, let me save you the disillusion. It turns out that all they want is an heir, and that they’ll even rape you to get it.

Here’s what I’ve learned from The Duchess:

  • Obviously, when your husband is the most powerful Duke in English and loves throwing his affairs in your face (i.e. your house), do not give in to the temptation to tell him that you’re having an affair!  Don’t do it! He won’t like it! Moreover, avoid like the plague any opportunity of telling your husband whom you’re having an affair with!!!!

My god, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, you’ve got to be the stupidest adulterer in the world. You want to go off and have an affair? Cheers, my lady! You want to meet your man in Bath and have a romp in the healing waters? Whatever. But don’t make such a spectacle of yourself that your mother has to come down and teach you a lesson! And, by god, DO NOT TELL YOUR HUSBAND WHO THE GUY IS. Because then you will be forced to have the conversation where your husband reminds you of how powerful he is and how he can destroy not only your boyfriend’s political aspirations but also his whole credit history.

  • When your husband is a jerk, he will continue to act like a jerk, no matter how much you cry.

I thought this one was pretty obvious, though it seems to have illuded our poor Duchess. Really, quit your cryin’. It’s not getting you anywhere. And he’s going to continue to be mean. Always. That’s what you get for marrying above your station: a jerk.

  • Don’t let a hot woman–especially one whom your husband has already hit on and who has already put the moves on you–move into your house because you’re husband will sleep with her. He will. Don’t be an idiot.

Surprise, surprise. The Duke gets it on with Lady Bess. Look Duchie, this woman is not only super hot, but has also encouraged you to have an affair and shown you how good sex can be. And she’s also crazy-desperate to get her kids back. Why wouldn’t she sleep with your overly-powerful husband? When you want your kids, you’ll do anything you can to get them back (or at least that’s a premise of this movie), and as long as she’s sleeping with him, he won’t kick her out. Lady Bess is a smart lady (ha, ha: pun).

At the end of the movie, after Georgiana has returned after having her illegitimate child in exile in the country–oh no!–the Duke admits to having been a bit “harsh” in the past. Seriously, man? “A bit harsh?” But rather than giving him a swift kick in the balls, or better, killing him in his sleep (hey, it’s the 17th century–there must be a million ways to do it and not get caught), this chick PATS HIS HAND: “I’m sooo glad you’ve admitted that you’ve been a bit distant lately, but I still love you and we can definitely work through it now that you’re finally expressing your true emotions. Oh, and since you’ve been so kind as to admit this tiny little flaw in your character, I will reward you by letting you continue to bang my best friend. You’re worth it!”

I totally understand that this is based on a true story about Lady Georgiana Cavendish. But–according to my extensive knowledge via Wikipedia–the real Georgiana was way more interesting. Check her out:

This babe had multiple affairs and was a total badass in the political and social salon scenes. Why can’t we make a movie about that?

So maybe it’s not that I want to give up on “17th century royalty greenapril”–I just want to reinvent her in a not-so-depressingly-controlled-by-her-husband, totally-influential-female-intellectual way.

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