The Cultural Crime of Femininity: Advocating for Viable and Successful Womanhood in Charles Dickens and George Eliot
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Gender, Panopticon, Victorian
Mid-century Victorian England creates an environment for women in which they are expected to adhere strictly to a socially inculcated view of gender and prescribed behaviors. Difficulty arises, however, because women who follow these cultural expectations ultimately fail as they are not given the appropriate skills to function as wives or mothers. On the other hand, women who choose to disregard these social norms for gender are crushed by a cultural policing force that includes both women and men. Thus, prior to legal and educational reforms that allow for women to progress beyond these restrictive gender norms, they are unable to exist as viable, independent women. Through their fictional representations of women, Charles Dickens and George Eliot reveal the impossible system in which women find themselves, and, in so doing, advocate a cultural reformation that would allow these women not only to survive, but also thrive in the rapidly changing nineteenth century.
Leigh, M. K. (2014). The Cultural Crime of Femininity: Advocating for Viable and Successful Womanhood in Charles Dickens and George Eliot. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/2094