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ENGL 330 – Reading of Elizabeth Gaskell's Ruth.docx

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McGill University
English (Arts)
ENGL 330
Marc M.Ducusin

th ENGL 330 – English Novel 19 Century September 6 2011 Elizabeth Gaskell  Unitarian ministers as parents  Notion of dissenters Ruth  Second novel  Considered weakest  Now feminist perspectives and social rejection intrigue made it popular  Isles of industrialism  Was a series of novels crammed together to form a novel o Esther, a prequel to Ruth (Cranford) o Published anonymously, however Gaskell’s identity was known publically as Mary Barton o Wasn’t until 1857 biography of Charlotte Bronte that Gaskell’s own name was printed on title pages Genre  Social problem novel  Arguably fictional figures have more social impact than a historical figure  Conscientious political agenda to heighten social awareness  Draws on traditions of the romance o Classic literary form of chivalric/medieval literature romance Novel  18 – 19 century romanticism  Ruth a childlike figure  Harmony with nature  References to dreams Woodsworth poetry throughout Ruth  Victorian culture/hierarchy is predominant with sexually charged females  The women’s rehabilitation caused fear and questioning  P. 6 “the traditions of those bygone times…”  Circumstances contribute to the formation of character  Plot vs. conditioning of character convention o Casts herself on the fringes of society o Chains of domestic stable habits vs. an industrial novel o Similar to these novels but more focused on the domestic The Fallen Women  Often associated with prostitutes  Nothing left for them  The great social evil  The prostitutes body Atwood (novel)  Fallen women any sexual deviance found within a women  No where in English literature (Britain) was there address of prostitution Oliver Twist - Dickens  Nancy – prostitute character that is never addressed for her job  Criticized for her role  Addresses it a bit more openly th 19 Century  addresses social convention much more openly  fallen women in literature (American literature and French literature)  sympathetic stance towards subject matter – Ruth  idea of contagion (rhetoric) o prostitution considered contagious (STIs and military) o could e rounded up and tested o contagious diseases acts (Law) o only holds the women accountable o configures women’s body at fault o raises suspicious of everyone (social fears and anxiety) o slot people in rigidly defined types (Victorian people and putting people in categories) The Fallen Women  the class dimension  umbrella term  stigmatized identity  class differences don’t apply  anyone can be suspected  dress makers and milimakers cold be associated with clandestine prostitution  working women have little to differentiate with poor women  Ruth’s connection straddles the term Fallen Women identification with minor details o Rural background o Not in England  Susception to all for men with higher social hierarchy o Picks apples due to credit for the establishment (looks) to go to the ball o
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