The Memoirs of Princess Dashkova Analysis
Eloquent, brilliant, unorthodox, poise, and loyal – all of these unique characteristics allowed Dashkova to gain the highest regard among the members of the elite society and more importantly, to earn the respect of Catherine the Great. Dashkova is a peculiar female character. She’s fully narcissistic, but at the same time, rejects her recognition and claims herself as unworthy of the credits Catherine II had given her. In her autobiography The Memoirs of Princess Dashkova, Dashkova justifies her role as a noble woman, her early-life contribution in helping Catherine rise to the throne, and the frugal life she bore as a widow and a mother of two. Dashkova voiced her significance in a society where women had limited power and no opportunities to be intellectually involved. Dashkova was born to an aristocratic family in St. Petersburg in 1744. Her mother passed away when she was only two years old. Her uncle, the Grand Chancellor, adopted her into his family when she turned four. In her memoir, Dashkova shared her unpleasant upbringing in her uncle’s household: “sharing the same room, the same masters, even dresses cut from the same cloth” with her cousin, Countess Stroganova. According to Dashkova, her “uncle had no time and her aunt had neither the ability nor the inclination” to impose knowledge or compassion in her heart and mind at all (pg. 32). Dashkova also shared that, as a kid, she craved attention and was often left feeling lonely. All these misfortunes along with her determination to overcome her gender role stereotypes motivated her to achieve the accomplishments she made in her lifetime. Catherine the Great was a prominent figure in Dashkova’s memoir. Not only did they share many similar values, but the Duchess Catherine also “did any serious reading, … knew how to exert whenever she wanted to win over anyone” (pg. 36). She also acquired the mutual ambition of overthrowing her husband, Peter III, and claiming...
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