Great Expectations Essay

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How does Dickens and Conrad explore the role of women within their novels? Intro – both explore the role of women differently – Dickens subverts the stereotypical Victorian role of a female, whereas Conrad ensure his female chararcters to live up to expectations … describe period of time written; both written during Victorian era; The life of women in Victorian era was centred on family commitments; The only role assigned to them was to get married and look after the simple chores. Feminism; Feminism is a diverse set of beliefs that focus around the empowerment of women as an oppressed group. They believe society is patriarchal and women are treated unequally compared to men. Some feminists believe this is evident in Great Expectations due to the minority of female characters and how they have been affected by the influences of patriarchy in the text. GREAT EXPECTATIONS; Many of Dickens main female characters act as an antithesis to Victorian ideologies of innocent womanhood – Mrs Joe is abusive, Miss Havisham is crazy, Estrella manipulative Biddy comes close to fitting ideal woman. Bound by gender = unnamed/properties. Role of woman is to be a maternal figure to their child, Pips mom is dead, next woman abuses him so he turns to Joe as a maternal figure in which he adopts the characteristics ‘except the household work’. First woman described is dead mother = negative image of motherhood, the only role they played. Miss Havishams behaviour – stays in wedding dress – shows how dependent she was on her husband, acts as symbol to womens dependency on men, without a man they were nothing – men = finance. – whole life define by one event = all clocks stopped, one shoe. Miss Havisham & Mrs Joe support the stereotypical Victorian image by being bound to their homes, no social existence – dickens does this as a symbol to womens bounds within society – not

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