ENGL 330 – English Novel 19 Century
October 27 2011
Note: Final Essay due December 8 2011
Oliphant has red hair; important trope in Victorian literature
Long, ravishing hair is an important trope
Connotes sensuality in a time of sexual prudishness
Long, prudish locks was a ‘safe’ was of depicting sensuality
Ex. Eve’s body being covered by her hair
Relevant for many sensation heroines and women in general
Many paintings during and surrounding the Victorian period depict this same trop of
long, luxuriant hair; typically red locks as well.
Alignment with red hair to symbols of creativity
A kind of exoticism to kinds of foreignness perceived as a type of threat
o Foreignness infiltrated literature in terms of the sensation novel and gothic
literature; a threat to English society and English womanhood
Opening of The Girl in the Period suggests this very point
o Naturalized femininity and national model of femininity, new threatening
figure of the girl of the period goes against nature. Becomes a very
profound anxiety in the later Antiquity period.
1. Think about the narrative destabilization of character versus the essentialist implications of
Lydia Gwilt as an ‘innately’ evil woman, and the possibility of Ozias Midwinter being fated to
bring harm to Allan.
Lack of fixity in the novel, especially in notions of femininity and the way characters
figure characters like Lydia as innately evil.
Do you think she herself seems innately evil? Social conditioning of her character?
What side is Collin’s on in the overly simplistic vs. nurturing debate?
Takes advantage of the perception of being flawed and unknown when introduced
as trying to commit suicide.
Complexity of her character; we don’t know anything about her but there are hints
towards something terrible happening to her marriage/a darker past that endears
this ‘evil’ character that we see.
Seems to be the only character with an understanding of the fluidity and power of
identity. Ozias doesn’t necessarily have that understanding that Lydia does.
Both Ozias and Lydia adopt false identities to survive, that is Lydia has the
understanding of the power of false identity where as Ozias doesn’t.
Lydia is the most sensational character in the novel (arguably). Her story remains a
mystery that is unraveled throughout the novel.
2. What does this seemingly parallel between Lydia and Ozias imply for the erotic triangle?
These are the two characters with a dark past, however Ozias’ past is unraveled
quickly but Lydia’s remains a mystery for a longer period of time. Parallel between Lydia and Ruth
Main thing in Lydia’s scheme in Volume two is that she is going to become a
governess and a companion to a young marriageable woman.
Ruth becomes a governess to the Bradshaw family and becomes a companion to
Boldly hinting to the idea of the Fallen Woman. Even though Lydia acts evil, we
don’t know the root of that. She could have been a fallen woman and that could be
a vague references to her husband and experience with a man.
Some sort of tragedy is implied that puts both women on the outskirts of society
and maintaining the use of a false identity.
Neither change their name.
Both can be looked at as evil for committing sin; Gaskell tries to show readers Ruth’s
background to demonstrate her good qualities, where as Collins’ doesn’t provide
o Respective impetus of each genre? One trying to redeem a negative social
type rather than a sensation novel which sensationalizes criminal figures.
What instances destabilize Ozias’ character and masculinity in the novel
Does the feminization make him similar or different from Lydia?
Lydia becomes the most powerful because she becomes the dominant figure in the
relationship; in terms of Ozias becoming feminized.
Ozias is lost in terms of stabilization because he’s characterized as hot-headed and
potentially unpredictable, where Lydia is portrayed as the more stable figure.
Ozias portrayed as a feminine man to display the contrast between what Lydia is
and what she probably should be in terms of societies gender expectations.
Ozias maybe the Ruth character of the text? Moral consciousness; taking other
peoples secrets as well as his own on.
In terms of Brock, Ozias seems to appear as the motherly figure. Does that
undermine the brotherly a