Examining Significant Roles Of Female Characters English Literature Essay

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The romantic period in Europe was marked with instability and social conditions were changing. Michael McKeon suggests that cultural as well as epistemological (truth in narration) transformation contributed to the rise of the novel in the 18th century (McKeon 2000: 383). The rise of the novel is commonly associated also to the rise of women's place in literature which happened to take place along side the forward marching of the novel (Lanser 1992: 25). Women in romantic era had little or no rights to education and had no income of their own. Even after marriage they possessed no legal rights and the husbands were controlling the income. A number of women started to write novels and this could be seen as the starting point for equal rights between men and women, to be able to have equal capacity in social education and for women to have the right to vote. Nancy Armstrong in "Desire and Fiction: Introduction" mentioned that a domestic woman got powerful by controlling courtship procedures, family, leisure time and family relationship and developed the basic human qualities under her own jurisdiction. This not only had effect on political history but also had significant impact on culture as far as it resulted in new formation of desire in importance of female changed (Dorothy 2006: 622). This essay intends to discuss the female characters in three novels written in the 18th century to highlight the way love and marriage is portrayed related to the female character's status in the novels. The novels included in the study are Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, and Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.

The Mysteries of Udolpho - Emily

The Mysteries of Udolpho is a gothic novel and it clearly narrates the issue of society. The gothic genre is often describes as exhibiting for instance independency of women, power, money and sex. Emily is the protagonist in The Mysteries of Udolpho. She is a aristocratic pretty girl, romantic as well as a clever and sensitive personality. I also got the impression that she is slightly naive after reading this part "In person, Emily resembled her mother; having the same elegant symmetry of form, the same delicacy of features, and the same blue eyes, full of tender sweetness" (Radcliffe 1998: 8). The story takes place when she's travelling with her father through the Pyrenees.

On the journey Emily falls in love with a handsome man named Valancourt. Fortunatley her love is answered. For instance, when in one section Emily is looking for some books she has left in the carriage she could not find them anywhere. Instead she found a volume of Petrarch's poems which had belonged to Valancourt. She realizes that he has left the book purposely. When she opened the book, she saw drawing lines from the passages Valancourt had read aloud to her at antoher time (Radcliffe: 63). This section serves to prove the desire between them. Throughout the novel there are serveral obstacles the two of them have to overcome. For example Emilys father dies, her aunt is then against their marriage and Valancourt who in the beginning of their friendship is wealthy man loses everything. Although the obstacles keep them apart Emily is driven by love and wants to marry Valancourt. Even though he loses his fortune she stands by his side, in the end.

Northanger Abbey ,Cathrine

In the Northanger Abbey first chapter talked about protagonist of novel same as The mysteries Udolpho,Catherine Morland is a heroin of this novel , "No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine"(Austen P1). In contrary of Emily in The mysteries of Udolpho, Cathrine is not intelligent, beautiful until 15 years old. Cathrin is an ordinary person. She is a reader of novel books especially Gothic novel.

As a consequence of less experience in the world, she does not have love and she does not really know about relationship between men and women. But when she gets familiar with Henry Tilney, she starts to fall in love, especially when she knows he also interested to reading novels.

In chapter 18 of Northanger Abbey we can see the love between another character of this novel, for instance " …It seemed to her that Captain Tilney was falling in love with Isabella, and Isabella unconsciously encouraging him; unconsciously it must be, for Isabella's attachment to James was as certain and well acknowledged as her engagement…"(Austen 1972: 119). Isabella married finally with Henry Tilney. She changed completely and converts into an independent woman in end of the novel.

"Jane Austen highlights an important cultural change in the Victorian definition of romantic love. Furthermore, this change foreshadows our contemporary understanding of that malleable term love" (Weisser 2006: P93).

Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa

Clarissa is the heroine of Mrs. Dalloway is really different from Catherine and Emily. She is positive and dignified person and also she is shy. Her love, beliefs, feeling and attitude is really different; in contrast of Cathrine and Emily, she tries to realize the life in another point of view. Clarissa is unsatisfied in the relationship with Richard. The end of the relationship in The Mysteries of Udolpho and Northanger Abbey leaded to marriage based on love, but the end of Mrs. Dalloway is not the same.

Jane Austen discussed dominating of individuals who lean to attraction of marriage and love in social relationships especially in middle class in the late eighteen century. However, many of relationships were shaped by the impact of social-financial supports among women and high demand of attention from women among men. Austen pointed out the necessary lack of existence of love as a feeling in marriages as it used to be based on social-economical security. Normal ordinary characters play role of lovers in order to bring a peaceful marriage in modern life style (Weisser 2006: 94). In both Gothic novels maybe people want to flee from situation and like gothic novel which is full of mysteries things in it.

In conclusion according these three novels in 18 &19 centaury, Amoretti summarizes three symbolic tasks of Bildungsroman: at this time youth was used as a tool to express the modernism process which helped to construct a transparent start and certain ending for this type of fiction. During these period normal characters, ordinary people were described in the novels instead of heroes rather than previous time and these young women characters introduced to the new modern society. (McKeon 2000: 562).

By considering above classification and definition we can compare the main subject "Love and the role of love in marriage in these novels. The love of Catherine and Henry, Emily and Valancourt is really different from Mrs. Dalloway and Richard, their own is simple and perfect, and their love due to marriage in end of the novel, But in Mrs. Dalloway is not the same in, 19 century love merely found simple definition, mostly complex. In regard to this issue we can demonstrate that human society in every centaury and era is differed by passing the time. It can be noted that the feelings, desire and thoughts are affected by modernity and social circumstances; Love and its relation with marriage are issues which are changing gradually and those faded away the previous status.