The unlocked home: new women, new novels, new spaces

Publication Year:
2013
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Repository URL:
http://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2002-Fellows-Thesis-F559
Tags:
art and literature 2.; Major art and literature 2.
artifact description
The Victorian ideology of separate spheres made an evident separation according to gender. The principle not only affected the interaction between men and women but also the spaces that they occupied. While men had access to universities and a range of professions, social advancement for women was through a favorable marriage and the accomplishments of her husband and children. Indeed, wives were venerated as "angels of the home," and their familial duties were thought to be sacred. However, during the fin de sic?le, a resistance to this traditional separation of gender emerged in British society and literature. In March 1894, the term "New Woman" was first used in Sarah Grand's essay, "The New Aspect of the Woman Question." The concept of the New Woman was that she rejected traditional gender roles and demanded the emancipation of women. Scores of women began writing novels and short stories, knows as New Woman fiction, in addition to articles and essays demanding emancipation for women in the suffrage movement, the enfranchisement of marriage, and the double standard of sexuality between men and women. Most scholarly research regards the New Woman as a transitional figure that transcends the boundary between what is private and whit is public. Critics focus on the move of emancipated women from the domestic realm into the public sphere of education or the professions. I, however, am examining the depiction of the private life of the New Woman figure in turn-of-the-century literature. I wish to find out what impact, if any, the New Woman ideals had on domesticity and the portrayal of domestic life in literature. I plan to argue that the New Woman novels try to put what is locked in and what is locked out together and that the New Woman figure attempts to alter space in order to take apart and transcend the system of separate spheres to find a room of her own.