Women during Victorian Era

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In the period of Victorian era, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, was a period where female sexuality was suppressed. During this time period, the roles of women changed drastically from censored and submissive to educated owners of their own bodies. Many women, if not all, began and started the fight in order to bring change they wanted to see in their lifetimes. Many Victorian female writers, such as the Brontes and Mary Ann Evans, started to explore and write about the philosophy of female empowerment and emancipation.

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They worked to empower women in the field of literature, gaining the recognition and expressing a female consciousness. This age was the beginning for a time of great prosperity in the literature. This age produced a vast variety of changes. Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, explores themes such as sexuality, gender, and women through development of male and female characters. In Dracula, the females are seen and represented as either highly sexual or prudently chaste.

Moreover, the novel explores all the differences between the gender roles through character development. Released in 1897, it has all the themes that were popular in the Victorian era. The novel is now rather a time capsule that contains the popular thoughts, ideas, and the beliefs that were present during the Victorian era that paints a picture of what the society was like when the novel was written. The ideas reflected in Dracula focuses on the concepts such as lust and sex as they were viewed in the late 19th and 20th century in what can be seen as a strongly conservative and traditional society. During this time, sex and homosexuality were very controversial topics and there were emphasis on been put on the importance of using caution and awareness when involving in such matters. Such topics were present in the novel and they were centered on the resistance of the temptation while advising against the inevitable temptation to have a bite of the forbidden fruit. It looks like the main character, Dracula, in the novel could be seen as a character that is filled with sexual intensity.

The main pieces of evidence that shows Dracula as an embodiment of the straight male can be found firstly in the harem of the three vampires that live in his castle. Another piece of evidence is the pride Dracula has over his warrior heritage. This pride is linked to the image of the straight male insofar since the men in the Victorian era were seen and considered to be the sex that were do-ers. According to the testimonies born in the Victorian era, they were both uniformed and emotionally frigid about sexual matters.Christina Rossetti’s novel, Goblin Market and Other Poems, has some interesting word choices. The main theme in the text focuses on Laura’s redemption is facilitated through Lizzie and her sacrifice.

Although there were dangers in the market of the goblins, Lizzie takes a risk in order to save Laura from a destiny of pain and suffering because of the love she has for Lizzie. Another theme shown, similar to the redemptive power of love, is the spiritual love for nourishment. This time shows the parallel between Lizzie and Jesus Christ. When Lizzie comes back and she invites Laura to taste the fruit she has on her body, this alludes to the same communion ritual Jesus Christ took part with his disciples. And as a result of this, Laura is now nourished and has been given new life. The theme of the dangers of sacrificing the chastity which means the relationship between a part of the self in order to indulge in pleasure.

Laura trades one part of her body in order to indulge in forbidden fruit and when this is done, she suffers due to her actions. This suggests that giving up one’s purity and innocence for the sake of temptation or pleasure isn’t worth the risk in the end. Overall, Goblin Market serves as a metaphor for sexual promiscuity and the way in which the concepts of both virginity and purity were tied together to personal identity and sense of self. And the text highlights the importance of family values and sibling bonds. There is a more modern story, titled Namesake which is co-authored by Megan Lacey Heaton and Isabella Melancon. This work often references Rossetti’s works but makes a major plot point out of the mysterious “goblin market”, in which a place where vendors and sailors buy and sell names, where the result of which is a divided identity in which an individual’s “existence” is separated from their physical being. Goblin Market compares the two sisters to trees frequently. Such an example, a similar likes Laura’s “shining neck” to a “moonlit poplar branch” (475), and later compares her “fallen” nature to “a wind-uprooted tree” (487) in the poem. Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree White with blossoms of honey-sweet Sore beset by wasp and bee, Lizzie is also compared to a tree to emphasize her strength and vulnerability at the same time. The “wasp and bee” associated stingers. Here, as the earlier description of “their hungry thirsty roots” (474) suggests a phallic metaphor.

The precedent of the pronoun “they” is open for discussion in the poem, referring either to “goblin men” or “fruits.”There are many interpretations for Goblin Market but one popular one is how the fruit which the goblins sell has been interpreted in various ways, such as being a symbol for sexual temptation where Laura falls victim to and succumbs to the masculine wiles and is ruined as a result of her giving away to the exotic fruits. This temptation invites even more analysis and interpretation. Back in the Victorian era, the women had many rules regarding their sexuality and when is appropriate to give up their innocence: during their marriage night to their husbands. There is also some interpretation where Laura being addicted to the fruit as an experience to drug addiction. In Victorian Britain, opium addiction was a major problem where the opium was both sweet and bitter, just like the fruits in the novel and exotic due to being hailed from the Orient.

And since the fruits are considered forbidden in the text, there are interpretations where the sisters, whom they live alone, are in terms of homosexuality. Also, the fruit can be interpreted as the fruit Eve and Adam ate in the Garden of Eve. Goblin Market also posits nature as the site of sexual desire. An example is when the poem repeatedly locates the goblin men selling their fruit in a “glen” (474, 477, 488) by a “brook” (474, 479, 488). This significance on sexual threat, which were represented by the goblin men, within a natural setting that is emphasized by the parenthetical line “(Men sell not such in any town)” (488), “such” referring to “fruits” two lines previously. The populated “town” is liberated from corrupting fruit, but the “haunted glen” (488) is filled with temptation. Like the etching, which suggests the fertility of summer by depicting a thick canopy of green leaves and tall reeds, the poem sets the action in “summer weather” (480).

The “warm” wind suggests the heat of desire and passion (474).With new work study has done a lot to alter simplistic ideas and thoughts of Victorian prudery, this idea of Victorian sexual repression lingers. It has strong origins in the large anti-Victorianist attitude of modernist writers, notably Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf. At Eminent Victorians (1918), Strachey attempted to liberate his people from this perceived reticence and ignorance, particularly at intimate issues of their pre-Freudian fathers and grandfathers. In the year of 1966, Steven Marcus expounded on much views at his extended and powerful The Other Victorians. The survey of sex and porn in the mid 19th century England, which represented the Victorians as sexual hypocrites, maintaining a veneer of respectable society over an underbelly of prostitution and pornography. Michel Foucault mounted the important objection to the way in The History of Sexuality (1976).Ideas of Victorian literature and writing are dealt with such works such as Jane Eyre.

Food was a reoccuring and important themes in many Victorian novels because of the hunger many people experienced in this time period. The idea is reflected in the brilliant description of undernutrition in Lowood School in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre. The females were easy and true under the expectations of the community and society, “that women and mothers from whom all morals sprang” (Lowes). The idea began to turn into common in victorian literature. The British people were very religious during the Victorian period. There were many who visited the church on a routine basis or went to Sunday’s parish church. Quite often, the Victorians who belong to the multiple strata of society read the Bible. Not only were individuals very spiritual, they were also fearful of gods. People were already starting to focus on improving their work and wanted to be free from the kind of lifestyle they had during small counties and to lead a better life in different metropolitan areas. There has been no one left since the industrial growth who wanted to become priests or ministers as the large percentage chose to do business and scientific work. Charles Darwin, the Victorian era naturalist, was one person in charge for shaking personal beliefs.

Darwin had propounded the theory which man had developed just like every other species in his book The Origin of the Species, but that he wasn’t a separate creature as was a common belief. Darwin also said that humans evolved via the natural selection process, which is in response to the surroundings and his pleasure pursuit. Darwin’s very reasoning surprised many as it confronted the very fundamentals of their old ideas carried on to them by generations. From both the Romantic Age of Idealism to that of the Victorian Age of Realism, ascending in to the history of English literature, one discovers the impression of a turn from solitude to society, from nature to industry, from concepts to concerns, from spiritualism to pragmatism, from positivism to agnosticism, from lyricism to criticism, as well as from organicism to reconciliation. A substantial part of the complex change which actually happens in English literature from early nineteenth to that of the later nineteenth century could be measured by the same kind of reform that happens when we migrate from Byron to Arnold. In contexts of ideas and concepts, the Victorian period was labeled by contradictory ideologies passed out through crusades and counter-crusades, threats and counter-attacks, unlike with the previous periods of literary history in England.

The Victorian Compromise was a mixture of the Victorian Age’s positives and negatives: growth, terrific innovations, interaction and colonial (Upper class) empire, deprivation, unfairness, starvation, slums (working people). Whereas in early stages of industrialization, the Romantics could easily buy to retract from the city, the Victorians, confronting the Industrial Revolution’s blooming, have no such softchoice at their fingertips. Victorian literature traits are likely to be similar since the artists have both been influenced by the art that came before them and by the events that took place throughout the time they worked. So, something could appear victorian, but that wasn’t published in the Victorian era, or anything authored in the Victorian era may not seem victorian in reality. For instance, in what might be regarded the Victorian era, Charlotte and Emily Bronte wrote Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but such books have far more Romantic period characteristics. Much of the age books had a ethical burden in them, claiming in human nature’s rightness. The characters was well-rounded and the main character typically resided to a middle-class society that battled in the industrial and mercantile world a niche for itself. The pressure was on realism and an try to portray normal men’s trials and tribulations that could be affiliated with by middle class listener.

Perhaps the ethical tangents are an attempt to free a then common moral decay in society and provided chance and optimism to the crowd. The age had seen female writers proliferating. Originally, the novel as a genre would be seen as feminine literature and as the pace of literacy among women risen, these writers reacted to a new need for female writers to accommodate for this section. In her novel, A Room of One’s Own, Author Virginia Woolf, paired with the concepts of the first wave of feminism, defined how men control women socially and psychologically. She stated that “women are the victims of themselves and are well as victims of men at the same time and behave as reflectors to men as defenders of society.” She recognized the social pressures that limit women in society and used literature for many other women to contextualize it. Activists such as Emmeline Pankhurst also tried to show that British women have more than domestic submissiveness. The Victorian gentle lady’s stereotype had become unacceptable or even intolerable. Mainly women from both the upper or middle class upbringings are the suffrage movement. The pressure on ethics was among the most significant factors that characterized the age. Rigorous social and cultural codes were implemented and publicly frowned on a few actions.

For women, such protocols were even tougher. They were charged with a womanly guidelines that defined every element of their very being from reasonable clothing to discussion, both had rules. Women’s place was mainly that of being home saints and restricted to domestic confinements. They had few skilled choices as a female can become either a governess or a professor in wealthy homes. Their social and economic condition annoyed these women and seek an escape valve by which to start transition. The very first wave, leading by Barbara Bodichon (ne Leigh-Smith) and Bessie Rayner Parkes, arose in the Langham Place Circle in the 1850s. They advocated in law, employment, education, and marriage to improve gender equality. During Queen Victoria’s reign, a woman’s position in the home has been deemed as a necessary emotional fulfillment for women by society overall. In most ways, these constructs kept women away from the public sphere, but charitable missions began to extend the female role of service during the 19th century, and Victorian feminism emerged as a powerful political force. In conclusion, it wasn’t expected that a young girl would focus too clearly on finding a husband. It suggested a worrying sexual appetite to be ‘ forward ‘ in men’s company. Women were expected to crave marriage because it allowed them to become mothers rather than achieving physical or emotional fulfillment. The poem by Rossetti, “Goblin Market,” shows the threat of sexual overindulgence.

The fruit of the Goblins is in some way a reflection of sex or sexual interaction, which can be seen obviously through the various ways in which the fruit is treated, one of which is the pleasurable response of Laura to consuming it. By rebuilding Victorian principles and values, Rossetti ends the poem. The above demonstrates how the Victorians believed sexuality in some way because they assumed something would bring down inside themselves. Sex is so socially unacceptable that there seemed to be a anxiety they’ll turn into a sex obsessed person when someone encounters it.

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Women During Victorian Era. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/women-during-victorian-era/