The Fictional Environment Of Womens Novels English Literature Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Novels are read and written by both men and women, but for some reasons it seems that women relate themselves to fictional environment and novels better than men. Even when we read novels themselves we can see that it is the women who likes to read and find themselves caught in the world of fantasy or their own imaginations. "Even in the nineteenth century, a woman lived almost solely in her home and her emotions" (Dorothy, 2006: 581). Men usually relate themselves to reality and they think fiction and fantasizing is just a waste of time. They think everyone should stick to facts, because life is real and hard and if you want spend your day dreaming then you are a loser. For a long period of time men were dominant characters in stories and women casted a tiny stream of light only thanks to existence of a masculine hero. Maybe it is all because of society, traditions and believes (wrong or right!) which have made public to think in a certain way and have certain expectations. It has been said that women are more interested in novels, however their presence as writers and main characters in stories was not considerable until the changes which started to happen during the recent century.

"One way of looking at prose fiction before the eighteenth century is to assume that it is an old-fashioned, feudal, and feminine thing, which it is necessary to turn into an appropriately modern and manly thing" (Doody, 1997: 274). When we take a brief look at the England history it is obvious that before Victorian era women had no rights in comparison to men. "Law and custom were of course largely responsible for these strange intermissions of silence and speech. When a woman was liable, as she was in the fifteenth century, to be beaten and flung about the room if she did not marry the man of her parents' choice the spiritual atmosphere was not favorable to the production of works of art" (Dorothy, 2006: 581). Women had to spend all their time doing household chores and taking care of their children and family. The families who had enough money and belonged to a middle or upper class tutored their children at home or sent them to special schools which only rich children could go there. However, the ones who did not belonged to those social classes had to stay home and help around the house or help their fathers on farm and get married to the man their parents chose for them. On the other hand, men were supposed to do hard physical labor and wages were so low. The work conditions were not good at all and there was no law against child labor so a lot of small boys were forced to work in order to help their family financially. Therefore, boys from childhood experienced hard word and realities in life which were not pleasant then and it did not left any time for them to fiction or daydreaming. We can see some these trace in novel of The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. When Emily's father died from a long disease she was force to live with her aunt who is called Emily Madame Cheron. Emily found her aunt not interesting and Madame Cheron did not show much affection to Emily. Emily is then forced by her aunt to marry Count Morano against her will, because she fell in love with another man called Valancourt (Radcliff, 2001).

Also, in "Northanger abbey" novel by Jane Austen one can see how a girl called Catherine is so fond of reading gothic novel and her favorite novel is The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliff. Catherine spends most of her time reading novels and fantasizing about them, however at the end of story she realized that novels are fun to read but not applicable to real life (Austen, 1994). "The "feminization" of the Novel in France and England maybe seen as a way of both succumbing to and resisting social pressure. By making the Novel so officially unimportant, so harmless, the definition permitted the Novel to continue, and novels to be bought." (Doody, 1997: 279).

During Victorian era there were lots of changes such as industrialization, colonization, utilitarianism, role of women and criticism of social condition. "The standard reader of a novel in the early eighteenth century is still imagined as a male, who is under continual threat from his own treacherous mind and emotions. Male novelists have a greater duty than ever to see that their novel is sufficiently masculine, and not play wantonly with male fancy. As we move into the eighteenth century, however, we notice that the reader is increasingly imagined as female" (Doody, 1997: 277). These matters were clearly projected in Charles Dickens's books, as instance, "Hard Times". Thomas Gradgrind is one of the main characters in this novel which can be a good model of men who lived in that period of time. "THOMAS GRADGRIND, sir. A man of realities. A man of fact and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into allowing for anything over" (Dickens, 2008: 7). Not only Grandgrind always stick to facts, but he also try to bring up his own children and his students at school the same way. However, his daughter Louisa regretted that she was not able to be like other girls in her own age. She wanted to play outside, wondering in her own thoughts and from time to time live in her own imagination rather than real life. At the end of story Gradgrind found that there is more to life than just facts and there are things which cannot be defined numbers and calculations. He is a passionate person inside but does not want to express it in public and maybe it is all because of society and believes of those times which made him this way.

Last but not least, 20th century is mostly about modernism, realism and breaking conventions. During these times men are struggling with life and harsh facts of it more than ever. Writers try to draw public attention to reality of life and things are happening in real life. One of the main topics for discussion among men and women in this century is the war which happening in different parts of the world. A good example of such matters can be found in Ian McEwan novel called Saturday. "Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind, a newspaper lawyer, and proud father of two grown-up children, one a promising poet, the other a talented blues musician." (McEwan, 2006: 1). Perowne family can be considered as good model of modern family and attitudes which men and women have toward life and fiction. Perowne is yet, one of those men who are not interested in literature and fiction, because of his own reasons. "… For fifteen years he barely touched a non-medical book at all. On the other hand, he thinks he has seen enough death, fear, courage and suffering to supply half a dozen literatures." (2006: 14). He is a logical man and tries to follow facts, not his emotions. However, by the end of the story he somehow realizes that not everything goes as it should be. A simple recitation of a poem by Perowne's daughter Daisy saved the family and even life of the man, Baxtor, who threatened family himself. Maybe what McEwan is trying to tell is that, it is not only women who need emotions and fiction in their lives, but so do men. McEwan did a really good job on projecting issues of society and at the same time discussing fiction and facts in life.

On the whole, no one can claim over domain of literary works such as novel. History has shown us that there have been so many shifts on the road of writing novels and their readers, yet we are all human and our desires and intentions changes from time to time. No longer are women the only novel readers who love fiction, nor men the only writers who are obsessed with facts.