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Role Of The Victorian Society In The French Lieutenant's Woman By John Fowles

757 words - 3 pages

In this novel, Fowles is interested in the genre of the nineteenth-century romantic or gothic novel andsuccessfully recreates typical characters, situations and even dialogue. Yet his perspective is that of thetwentieth century as can be noted in the authorial intrusions and opening quotations drawn from the works ofVictorian writers whose observations were uniquely different from the assumptions that most Victorians heldabout their world. In this way, he attempts to critique those values that Victorians most heralded.Until today, the Victorian Age was seen to be a Golden Age where Reason and Rationality were proclaimed asdogma and faith. People were beginning to question the claims that religion made about the existence of Godand the beginning of man. Anything that could not be proven through experimentation and science wasimmediately treated with suspicion. With Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859) the biblical myth ofAdam and Eve and the origins of man were shattered. Darwin's work created quite an uproar as it succeeded itin shattering the Victorian people's unquestioning religious faith.The Victorian society imposed a great deal of repressive conventions and norms on its people, especially womenand the working class. Victorian women were socially conditioned to believe that their rightful place was athome with their husbands and children. A Victorian woman was expected to accept the patriarchal normunhesitatingly. Her duty was to her husband and children. Only if she toed this social line would she be deemeda proper young Victorian lady. The institution of marriage was often a contract agreement. Money oftenmarried into a titled family as in Charles and Ernestina's case, thereby reinforcing the dominant society's power.Money and nobility were often the main criteria for a Victorian marriage.The practice of prostitution was a topic that Victorian archivists rarely touched upon. Most historians up untilrecently thought that the Victorian age was known for its virtuous and pure qualities yet Fowles' novel revealsthat even during the Age of Propriety prostitution flourished and consequently women were often victims ofsexual abuse or social rejects. By giving prostitutes a mention in his novel, Fowles is attempting to be realisticabout their situation. He is obviously concerned about the role of women in Victorian England and society'streatment of them. As is apparent women of all classes right from...

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