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Little rebellions : Wilkie Collins' exploration of ideal femininity


Little rebellions : Wilkie Collins' exploration of ideal femininity

Medzalabanleth, Valerie (2008) Little rebellions : Wilkie Collins' exploration of ideal femininity. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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My thesis explores Wilkie Collins' novels construction of ideal femininity in several of his novels. I argue that, contrary to popular critical sentiment, Collins creates ideal or passive female characters who subtly test the boundaries of propriety, rebelling in their own way while remembering issues of decorum and propriety. In my first chapter I examine the conventions of the sensation genre within which Collins is working, while also detailing popular ideas about gender from contemporary critics. I explore the works of a few of Collins' contemporaries such as Dickens, Braddon, and Le Fanu in order to emphasize the ways in which Collins understanding of rebellion and ideal femininity differ from his fellow writers. In my second chapter I begin my exploration of the primary novels I will use in my thesis: The Woman in White, Man and Wife, No Name, and The Law and the Lady. By examining some of the types of secondary female characters he uses in his novels, I indicate the ways in which Collins creates a spectrum of femininity. His exaggeration of desirable feminine traits, as indicated by popular sentiment and conduct manuals, illustrates the ridiculous nature of the requirements women are expected to fulfill. In my third chapter I detail Collins' use of doubling and the ways in which his passive female characters rebel against conventions and expectations, making it clear that he is attempting to expand the reader's understanding of Victorian femininity. While in his early novels he must rely on doubling to illustrate women's multi-faceted nature, in The Law and the Lady, Collins finally achieves a balance. I explore Collins' lesser known novel last, and demonstrate the culmination of Collins' stretch toward uniting rebellious and passive traits in Valeria Woodville Macallan.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Medzalabanleth, Valerie
Pagination:93 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Thesis Supervisor(s):King, Stephanie
Identification Number:LE 3 C66E54M 2008 M43
ID Code:976151
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:20
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 20:09
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