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ENGL 330 – Reading of Eliza Lynn Linton's The Girl of the Period.docx

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

th ENGL 330 – English Novel 19 Century October 27 2011 th Note: Final Essay due December 8 2011 Oliphant has red hair; important trope in Victorian literature  Long, ravishing hair is an important trope  Luxuriant hair  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 Gemima  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 that background. 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
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