Femininity in Victorian Literature

Book Report/Review
Pages 6 (1506 words)
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Subversion of Victorian stereotypes may have given rise to the New Woman also sought to silence her within the maddening attic of isolation and disrepute. Bertha Mason, the popular postmodern figure of Feminist criticism from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte finds an entire counter narrative dedicated to her in Jean Rhys' postcolonial metanarrative, "Wide Sargasso Sea" - a pastiche that explores issues of gender, race and identity within the framework of deconstruction of 'White, Male Western Discourse'.


If Shaw is unconsciously exploring issues dear to feminism, then Rhys is psycho-sexually and politically discussing its impact today. George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" first appeared in 1912. It was first performed in 1913; and was published in 1916. It's a comedy that dramatizes the social arrangements (institutions or languages) that enforce relations of power between man and woman.
Shaw's play was originally based on the classical legend from Ovid's "Metamorphoses" about Pygmalion, who falls in love with his own sculpture, Galatea. In the myth, Venus/Aphrodite gives life to the statue signifying Liza, who of course fails to live up to her standard of a "statue" (performance, silence and as per the instructions of patriarchal "linguistic" ideologies). First she's shown to be a poor, illiterate flower girl, with an accent that wouldn't allow her to achieve a better position. Higgins's profession is ironically suitable in getting the function quite clear: he is the male tutor, who must intervene within the chaotic but free realm of Liza's consciousness and make her a "real" woman through the performatory acts that must naturally define her gender. ...
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