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Gender Relations in Religion

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CO1001
Compare and contrast the role of religion in any TWO of the novels you have read in this module.
In The House of Ulloa and No Way Back, the depiction of religion, defined as “strict fidelity or faithfulness; conscientiousness; devotion to some principle,” greatly differs in gendered representations. For the male and masculine, religion is an asset, earning praise and rewards. For the female and feminine, however, religious fervor often earns derision and causes inner turmoil. The impersonal narratives and “tragicomic” genre examine this bias within the setting. By juxtaposing the gendered depictions of religion in characters, events, and prose, Emilia Pardo Bazán and Theodor Fontane underscore the partiality of gender relations in the nineteenth century.
The female protagonists of each novel, Marcelina (commonly known as Nucha) and Countess Christine, qualify as religious characters as they devote themselves to principle. In fact, clergymen in the novel describe them as “religious,” “noble” women in direct speech, although other men do not share such positive sentiments. The adjective “strict” in the definition also describes both women, as Christine and Nucha’s respective husbands, as well as Christine’s brother, express their apprehension, if not outright derision, of extreme religious devotion. Furthermore, Don Pedro exploits Nucha’s religiousness for his own amusement by behaving amorally in her presence. In each novel, men evaluate and manipulate a woman based on her religious traits. Conversely, as a result of Christine’s devotion, Asta describes her mother as the “best” of her parents and Fräuline Dobschütz calls the Countess an “angel.” Although these female characters view Christine favorably, they, like Chr...

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Fontane, Theodor. No Way Back. Translated by Hugh Rorrison and Helen Chambers.
London: Penguin Classics, 2013.
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