Critique of Marriage in 19th Century English Literature Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Her blooming full-pulsed youth stood there in a moral imprisonment which made itself one with the chill, colorless, narrowed landscape, with the shrunken furniture, the never-read books, and the ghostly stag in a pale fantastic world that seemed to be vanishing from the daylight. (Eliot, XXVIII)

However it is worth noting the implicit paradox expressed here in the notion of a married woman's "oppressive liberty." Dorothea Brooke marries sufficiently well that she is not condemned to a life of constantly cooking and washing underwear for Casaubon -- instead, she finds herself without anything to do, and this "freedom" from labor is actually what is most oppressive here. In some sense, then, Eliot's analysis of the problems of marriage is subsidiary to a larger point about women's social role and even educational status (an issue that obsessed Victorians in works ranging from the serious, in Tennyson's The Princess, to the silly, in Gilbert and Sullivan's travesty of Tennyson, Princess Ida).

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. Web. Accessed 20 April 2014 at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1342/1342-pdf.pdf

Besant, Annie. Marriage, As It Was, As It Is, and As It Should Be: A Plea for Reform. New York: Butts, 1878. Print.

Browning, Robert. "My Last Duchess." 1842. Web. Accessed 20 April 2014 at: http://www.bartleby.com/42/668.html

Eliot, George. Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. 1874. Web. Accessed 20 April 2014 at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/145/145-h/145-h.htm

Foster, Shirley. Victorian Women's Fiction: Marriage, Freedom and the Individual. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1985. Print.

Shanley, Mary Lyndon. Feminism, Marriage, and the Law in Victorian…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. Web. Accessed 20 April 2014 at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1342/1342-pdf.pdf

Besant, Annie. Marriage, As It Was, As It Is, and As It Should Be: A Plea for Reform. New York: Butts, 1878. Print.

Browning, Robert. "My Last Duchess." 1842. Web. Accessed 20 April 2014 at: http://www.bartleby.com/42/668.html

Eliot, George. Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. 1874. Web. Accessed 20 April 2014 at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/145/145-h/145-h.htm

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