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The myth of feminine beauty in victorian british novels
Vineri, 08 Februarie 2013 20:03

THE MYTH OF FEMININE BEAUTY

IN VICTORIAN BRITISH NOVELS

 

Profesor Ştefănescu Adriana

Colegiul Tehnic „Regele Ferdinand I”, Timişoara

 

I chose to study the Victorian novels because I considered them the beginners in breaking the ideology of beautiful married women. In order to achieve some relevant data in this field, I considered that the most appropriate authors for this were Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. While Jane was presented as unattractive in appearance, Tess represents the type of beautiful women that suffered great injustice because they possessed this charm. Tess develops herself from an innocent girl to a woman who discovers that her strong point is not her beauty but her delighting pure spirit.

 

 

It seems ironic that in a period of victories for the feminine writers, the ordinary people still believed that beauty is the main characteristic of a woman’s powers. The eighteenth century brought into marriage concepts such as Rousseau’s “wife-farm” principle—the idea that a man chooses a significantly younger child-bride, mentoring and molding her into the woman he needs. Oppressive social conventions prevented young men from getting to know a young woman’s mind, personality or character. As a result matches were reduced to mere physicality—a choice of appearance. But by the end of the century the ideal of marriage moved to the companionate ideal, which opted for an equal partnership. That ideal was based on the conception that marriage was based on personal happiness, hence should be founded on compatibility and love. This gradual shift of marriage ideals and its effect upon marriageable women is reflected in nineteenth-century novels.

 When women are allowed to become whole as a person, they are able to be equal partners, ready for companionate love. This gives plain women opportunity to come to
terms with what life has to offer them, to overcome their feelings of physical inferiority.
During the Victorian era women began to demand a higher formal education and much deserved respect from society. All these representative feminine characters emphasized the idea that indeed, there is no such thing" as beauty”, and they discredited the myth that women are physically attractive. Beauty comes from the interior and it should be explored more extensively, as it still influences our culture today.

 

Bibliography:

1. Castle, Gregory, 2007. The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory. Los Angeles: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

            2. Chase, Karen, 1984. Eros and Psyche: The Representation of Personality in Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot. London: Rouledge.

 

 

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