Women in the Victorian Society as reflected in The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles.
Å¾ What are we faced with in the nineteenth century? An age where a woman was sacred and where you could buy a thirteen-year-old girl for a few pounds, a few shillings ,if you wanted her for only an hour or two. Indeed, the Victorian Woman is fixed in our minds in a series of strikingly different, often mutually exclusive, images. On the one hand, we are confronted with a picture of a woman as the lady-like Å¾angel in the house, an ideal female preoccupied with her natural, as it was then believed, duties of a wife and a mother.On the other hand, there is an image of Å¾ the fallen woman, a desperate prostitute and yet sexually passive being. In between these two opposing, the highest and the lowest, places on the social Å¾feminine ladder,we find a lonely spinster, an early feminist struggling for women's rights or a commonly despised governess.
The French Lieutenant's Woman, though Å¾exactly mid-Victorian in setting and subject matter is not regarded by critics as a historical novel and yet the images of its heroines presented appear to be quite close to the true portrait of a Victorian Woman.
In the nineteenth century England marriage and the subsequent motherhood were the expected female goals. The Victorian heroine was an almost standardized product, and her functions were courtship and marriage In the Fowles's novel particularly two characters conform to this stereotype, namely: Ernestina, fiancee of the novel's protagonist Charles, and, to a lesser extent ( because of her being little depicted by the author), her mother.While the latter is obviously past her days of courtship, being a happy (house)wife and a mother to her only and beloved child,the former,Tina, is presently looking forward to marrying Charles so impatiently that, in her diary, she has been crossing out the dates which lay between her betrothal and the wedding day.