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Female Roles Challenged by Charles dickens and Wilkie Collins

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Gender roles in the Victorian Era were strict and well-defined. A typical female was seen as “weak, frail, and hysterical” (Stearns 2012). The ideal woman was seen as an angel of the house, one in which would perfect domestic duties and constantly be placed under the patriarchal nature of society, while also being weak, frail, and hysterical. Authors Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens both challenge this traditional view of women in society. Collins and Dickens do not adhere to representing strictly construed gender roles. However, the ways in which the two authors challenge these roles differ. Collin’s challenges society’s definition of an ideal woman by his character Marian Halcombe, a strong female character who portrays typically male traits for the Victorian Era. Dickens also challenges the Victorian ideal woman, but challenges it by placing value in his character Nancy, a prostitute with an extremely positive moral value.
Wilkie Collins’s challenges the Victorian era’s typical female gender role in his book The Woman in White with one of the main narrators, Marian Halcombe. His narrative style of writing depicts the story from multiple first person points of view. Marian Halcombe’s diary is one of the most significant to the novel. Collins’s novel is known for challenging gender roles, and Marian Halcombe doesn’t go unnoticed by critics. His novel includes a “strong thematic concern with how the identities of all Victorian women were constituted and regulated” (Liddle 2009) in this society. Marian’s masculinity, however, challenges the typical female gender role for Victorian society, and the respect Marian receives delivers Collins point that women do not need to be weak to be admirable.
Marian is respected in the nove...

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...e sympathetic approach to his challenging actions, by including a prostitute with a heart of gold and forcing readers to see her as more than just a prostitute, but also as a human being with a good heart and kind soul.

Works Cited

Collins, Wilkie. The Woman in White. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, 2005. Print.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1993. Print.
Hyder, Clyde. "Wilkie Collins and the Woman in White." PMLA 54.1 (1939): 297-303. Web.
Lennox, Sara. "Bachmann Reading/Reading Bachmann Wilkie Collins's the Woman in White in the Todesarten." The German Quarterly 61.2 (1988): 183-92. Web.
Liddle, Dallas. "Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1859-60)." Victorian Review 35.1 (2009): 37-41. Web.
Meyer, Susan. "Antisemitism and Social Critique in Dickens's "Oliver Twist"" Victorian Literature and Culture 33.1 (2005): 239-52. Web.
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