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Victorian Feminism

University/College: University of Arkansas System
Date: November 8, 2017
Words: 1887
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Victorian Feminism

Elizabeth Barrett Browning to further verify my position. In 1837, R. Soothes, in a response to Charlotte Bronze’s poetry, stated that; “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and It ought not to be. The more she Is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure she will have for it, even as an accomplishment and a recreation. To these duties, you have not yet been called, and when you are, you will be less eager for celebrity. ” (Seashell, up 102-3) It was the mind frame such that of R. Soothes that the following argumentation is based on.

It was the acceptance of these one sided Ideas that originally placed omen In a secondary position In all aspects of society and It was In this acceptance that the ideology of society convinced women they were inferior to the male intellect. The female acceptance of a male dominated society is evident in nearly all aspects of Victorian literature regardless of recognition by the author. For example, the character of Lucy Snows in Violent, to a large extent depicts the mind frame and depression of a female during the period.

Bronze purposely placed Lucy in an equal class setting as a male of the novel Dir John however showed how drastically diverse their lifestyles were. On the one hand we have Dir John, a man where limitless opportunities are granted to him through the course of his life and then subsequently we have Lucy. She does not only represent the social antithesis of Dir John but also symbolizes an in-depth depiction into the psyche of Bronze’s intellect. By means of Lucy, we witness Bronze’s pessimistic outlook for feminist liberation to be achieved and this Is evident In the character of Lucy in the desperate aspect associated with her portrayal.

Though It Is Important to notice It did not prevent Bronze from expressing her Ideals through her literature. Further evidence of the inferiority complex among women writers of the period is perhaps more evident in other female authors such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It is perhaps the most palpable display of an inferiority complex in relation to the female mentality of the Victorian period when we observe her letters and poetry. From these pieces of literature, It Is quite evident she viewed fervently Inferior to that of masculinity.

Soon after the death of M. Fuller In July of 1850, Browning apprised the majority of Fuller’s work as “quite inferior” compared to what might be expected from the intellect of the opposite sex. (David. D, p 145) More revealing was the statement Browning made in a letter to H. S. Boyd in regards to the literature of Harriet Martinets. Browning constantly praised Harriet for the “male” aspects of her intellect. In the letter to Boyd, she claimed “Martinets Is the most logical Intellect of the age, for a woman. ” (David.

D, p 146) uncharacteristic for a woman to be off logical standpoint in her literature. In J. L. Matura’s “Unstable Bodies,” we are made to understand that “logic” is purely a male property as “nurture” is solely a female’s property. Mates, p 220) The mentality of Brown stresses and confirms my view that the ideology of society in the Victorian period placed the position of women underneath that of men and as a resulting consequence had the majority of female authors, such as Browning, believing in such a ridiculing position.

However, the Victorian period did produce a rise in the intellectual and literary engagement between men and women as a direct result of the oppression suffered by women and this is also evident in the literature of the period. Evidence for the longing of female liberation can be viewed even in he skeptical intellect of Browning and her working. The desire for liberation protrudes from that of “Aurora Leigh. ” With this text, it can be demonstrated the emergence of feminist values emerged as a direct result of the oppression of women.

In agreement with this view, was Core Kaplan when he stated “it is possible to see it as contributing to a feminist theory re-enters discourse with a shattering revolutionary force, speaking all that is repressed and forbidden. ” (David. D, p 144) Kaplan claimed that this poem directly faced the patriarchal attitudes of oppression imply by maintaining the focus on “the woman as speaker poet” which replaced all the masculine fugues and because the female governed the style and form of the language of the poem.

Even in Browning, a woman completely taken with the ideological values of society, we witnessed the emergence of recognition for woman in her literature. In the story of Violent, one can argue that the persona of Lucy Snows is never fully deciphered for as a result of Bronze’s ambiguous descriptive methods. Although, it can also be argued that, as Mary Galleon does in “Feminist

Literary Theory,” the reason for Lully’s ambiguous character was the direct result of Bronze’s ultimate conservative aim, that was the successful integration into the social structures of the period which is evident in the lines “l am a rising character: once an old lady companion, then a nursery governess, now a school teacher” which takes place in her discussion with Genera. (Galleon, p 161) In the search for female liberation and the longing for equality, the view that the influence of feminism in Victorian literature results from the oppression is demonstrated quite clearly in the Bronze’s story of Violent.

One can view Bronze’s three novels, Jane Rye, Shirley and finally Violent as a form of progression to Bronze’s end desire which was the recognition to write in a male dominated industry. Patricia E. Johnson in “Anxious Power,” described the three books as having three distinct and separate interior objectives but which all had the same underlying motive. Jane Rye expressed the longing to write in a veil of sexual desire, the text of Shirley combined sexual desire and the desire to write as representing each other and finally Violent disclosed Bronze’s true objection which all along was her desire to write.

P. E. Johnson, p 174) The importance of writing for Bronze in the Victorian period is demonstrated in Violent and is proved in this novel by representing, however slightly, an autobiographical factor of Bronze’s life, “a veiled portrait of the author. ” (P. W. It has been suggested that the so called vagueness of Lully’s character, represents a direct objection for the expression of desire in Violent, but this is problematic due to the fact that this novel reveals Bronze’s ultimate desire as the wish to write after her previous two works mentioned concealed her dream.

This is expressed at different mimes in the novel. Firstly we witness this when Lucy reveals, however vaguely, that she received “power” and “pleasure” in the form of writing. Secondly, Bronze depicts Lucy in two separate scenarios of writing, when she writes to Graham Breton and additionally when she produces an essay during an examination. And importantly, the story itself displays Bronze’s engagement with the male intellect in the form of Lully’s engagement with Graham Breton and Paul Emmanuel alongside the two professors.

It is in these two scenes that the reader is able to define the importance f producing literature to Bronze by examining the conflict and oppression Lucy must endure to produce or in relation to the work she has already produced. In her heated debate with reason over whether to write to Mr. Breton or not, the concluding statement, “When you speak there be no oblivion of inferiority,” engages Bronze’s inferiority complex but also reveals that she excels in life when she can write. (Bronze, p 231) The insinuation of this dialogue between Lucy and “Reason” is clear.

When Lucy speaks, her language is viewed as being flawed but when she writes, her pain is exchanged for pleasure, sadness for happiness, etc. This emphasis Bronze’s wish of female liberation through literature. It is again obvious perhaps more so in the chapter entitled “Fraternity’ where Lucy is caught unaware when she must perform the examination set up by Paul for the two professors. One could argue for the possible momentary solution to the feminist conflicts present in Bronze’s position when Paul, hating “the mechanical labor” of writing asks Lucy, “Would Mademoiselle Lucy write for me if I asked her? (Bronze 347) Here the reader could say Bronze has succeeded in that for Lucy which was not yet a laity for herself, the integration as an equal into the realm of literature and therefore also proving the existence of the desire for status as an equal in literature in the male dominated society. But Bronze quickly acknowledges this plausibility false by the doubt displayed in her abilities by the two professors Bobbies and Rochester.

Here we witness how Bronze contrasts between the verbal and literary abilities of Lucy in order to place more emphasis on the literary potential of female and perhaps the lost voice of the woman. When Lucy performs poorly at the verbal assessment she is referred to as an “idiot. ” (Bronze, p 364) In her written assessment on “Human Justice,” Bronze speaks out against feminine issues through Lucy as she depicts Human Justice as deeply gender interwoven and occupied with class relations in her society.

She refers to Human Justice as a “blamed” who rejects the poor and rewards the rich, instead of referring stereotypically to the Justice as a proper lady. (C. J. Singles, p 183) This writing scene is crucial as the very foundation for its origin and Lully’s decision to carry on despite being caught unaware, directly opposes R. Southeast response to Bronze’s poetry, as stated above and offers recognition that female writing must finally confront those who prohibit it. ” (C. J. Singles, p 184) the literary power of women and refusing to accept their equal stature in society.

As evident in my argument, certain ideological values were so strongly enforced that the contemporary reader can recognize that certain female authors of the period accepted their position, such as Browning, in society, negating their own power as inferior to that of the male intellect. However evident this inferiority complex was in the female Victorian literature, we witness certain authors like that of Charlotte Bronze escaping from the shackles of society by her portrayal of a woman as the sole narrator through the whole of Violent directly opposing the tacit ideology of the period.

Despite this direct opposition, Bronze was sure to emphasis very much the inequality and struggle faced daily by women in her representation of Violent. But this is what makes Bronze the literary iconic figure as she is referred to as constantly. She was fully aware of the cultural criticisms and limitations she faced when producing literature, but because of Lucy, we know she found “pleasure and power” n writing regardless of the hardship she faced. For this reason, Charlotte Bronze will always remain as a strong foundation for female writers.

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