The theme of a woman being destroyed by love is common in many early Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which are often inspired by historical events and literature. John Everett Millais chose to depict Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Macbeth as she commits suicide and drowns, heartbroken and mad with grief after the murder of her father by...
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...eth Siddall. The paintings of Pre-Raphaelite artists imply that women fell into two categories: the chaste, maternal figure or the harlot. The subjects in Pre-Raphaelite paintings, are often defined by their relation to men, just as women in Victorian society were defined by their fathers, brothers, and sons. Though the feminist movement gained popularity during the Victorian era, women were still expected to be “. . . private and almost anonymous.” Victorian society was extremely preoccupied with controlling its members, as seen by the elaborate protocol governing the behaviour of women, yet at the same time it was also mesmerized by those who deviated from social expectations, like the “fallen women.” In Victorian England, art became a method for artists to express and grapple with a variety of societal problems, such as prostitution and the status of women.
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