Aggression or Regression: A Comparative Study of Heroines in the Mill on the Floss and Pride and Prejudice

By Abbasi, Pyeaam | K@ta, June 2014 | Go to article overview

Aggression or Regression: A Comparative Study of Heroines in the Mill on the Floss and Pride and Prejudice


Abbasi, Pyeaam, K@ta


INTRODUCTION

Not unrelated to the well-known Victorian ideology of the rational man's superiority over woman's emotional inferiority, was the conflict Victorian female characters of considerable mental capacity faced: those with a man's mind and a woman's might; a conflict definitely felt by such female novelists as Jane Austen (1775-1817) and George Eliot (1819-1880). Austen was self-divided: on the one hand she felt fascinated with feeling and imagination, and on the other she could not accept it as feminine. The conservative Jane Austen then decided to resolve the conflict (of her characters) and her own anxiety of the "desire for assertion in the world and retreat into the security of the home-speech and silence, independence and dependency" (Gilbert and Gubar, 2000, p. 162). Believing in the Hegelian view that history was progressive and towards betterment, Austen could find no better resolution than marriage in her realist novels where her female characters change just to become fit for their expected Victorian gender roles.

Accordingly, the Austen heroine needs morality which, in Correa's words, "consists in her [the heroine's] misfortunes and vicissitudes [...] brought about as a consequence of social convention" (2000, p. 66). Anderson believes that, in Austen, "happiness or suffering depends on moral action, not accident" (1975, p. 372), and Tomlinson states that "however spirited and independent by nature the heroines of many nineteenth-century novels may be, their position in life forces them into a kind of idleness and subject" (1978, p. 115). From these statements it is well understood that Austen educates her heroines into social morality, experience and decorum so that they can meet the male society's demands and expectations. Remaining silent and observant of a male community where usually a male character takes the trouble of educating the heroine, seems "necessary for [...] submission" which "reinforces women's subordinate position in patriarchal culture" (Gilbert and Gubar, 2000, p. 154).

Despite the fact that Austen was a critique of her society-she had to publish her works anony-mously-and a feminist writer, the criticism does not seem strong in her, and the feminism of the novels not explicit. Criticism in Austen's successor is a different story. Mary Ann (or Marian) Cross who published under the name of George Eliot, was a romantic novelist who would defend individualism in her novels. Comparing her with the realist Austen, Eliot can be named a modern novelist and a more serious critique of the society. George Eliot's words in Felix Holt are noteworthy: "no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life" (as cited in Correa, 2000, p. 280). This implies that Eliot was well aware of the social world of Victorian expectations of gender roles, sexual codes and familial ties supporting the main ideologies that would leave the heroine with no chance, whatsoever, to remain an individual or survive at all. A more exact definition for society seems necessary before approaching the main stream of the discussion.

Ingham provides us with the following definitions: "as (rightfully) groups of patriarchal families" (1996, p. 19); a "competing and conflicting linguistic coding" (ibid.); "a necessary struggle for existence" (1996, p. 12) and finally "a machine and human beings as its parts" (ibid.). Correa's definition is similar: "the networks of gossiping neighbors" (2000, p. 279) and a network can be a stifling circle. From the society's perspective, marriage is fortune; a "complex engagement between the marrying couple and society-that is, it means not only "feelings" but "property" as well. In marrying, the individual marries society as well as his mate, and "property" provides the necessary articles of this other marriage" (Ghent, 1961, p. 102). This represents the ideological function of marriage in the Victorian novel however, marriage finds totally different forms in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860) and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Aggression or Regression: A Comparative Study of Heroines in the Mill on the Floss and Pride and Prejudice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.