Women of 18th and 19th Century led a life that was prescribed for them. The way they should behave, the way they should talk and what they should think. They were completely dependent on men and they were expected to obey. Being different was the same as being an outcast. Yet there were some exceptional individuals – women – who were not satisfied with this perception of themselves. They chose to break the boundaries and to live their lives the way they themselves chose to. Among them were many women writers of this Victorian era. These brave females, although often forced to hide behind a pseudonym, wrote some outstanding stories with heroines that like themselves didn’t want to be defined by such stereotypes. Two brightest examples of these heroines are Maggie Tulliver from The Mill in the Floss which was written by George Eliot and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall written by Anne Bronte. This essay examines closely both of these books and tries to analyze, compare and contrast both rebellious females. The Story
1. The Mill on the Floss
The mill on the Floss chronicles lives of a young girl named Maggie Tulliver and her brother Tom from childhood into adulthood. She is one of the most interesting female characters that have ever been written. When the story begins Maggie is a clever yet impetuous girl. She is undoubtedly more imaginative and interesting than the rest of her family. She is in desperate need for love and approval especially from her older brother Tom. But he doesn’t always see eye to eye with Maggie and that causes major problems between them which make her very upset. Maggie also struggles to win approval and affection of her mother who constantly criticizes her irrational behaviour and her rather dark features. Tom is later sent away to study, even though he is not the studious type. Maggie visits him and befriends another student there called Philip Wakem. At the beginning she mostly feels sorry for him because he is crippled. But she discovers what an amazing human being he really is and a real friendship is formed. But because of his father’s involvement in the bankruptcy of Maggie’s family she is not allowed to see him. She is forced to choose between her duty to her father and ultimately to her brother and her friendship to Phillip. The desire to win over Tom’s affection is stronger than the pleasure that she gets from being friends with Philip. Although he proposed to her and she told him she loved him it was Stephen Guest, the handsome suitor of her cousin Lucy, who stole her heart. But when once again faced with the decision whether to run away with him or stay and fulfil her duties to her family she chooses the latter. Her love for her brother is stronger than any other feeling. 2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a story written by Anne Brontë about a young woman who finds the strength to take control of her own life in order to protect herself but above all her son. Helen Lawrence Huntingdon also known as Mrs Graham is the main protagonist and we get to meet her through the eyes of a young gentleman called Gilbert Markham. She moves to a nearby old mansion with her son. Her lack of interest in socializing with people in her neighbourhood causes them to wonder who she really is and what her secret is. Going back in time we discover this secret through the pages of her diary. As a young girl she fell in love with a certain Mr. Huntingdon. As is often the case – love was blind – and she graciously overlooked all his mistakes. When she realizes who she actually married, it is too late to do anything. But as the situation with her drunk and abusive husband worsened she was forced to leave to save her son. Finding refuge at her brother’s old mansion where she hides under her mother’s maiden name of Graham. She then reveals her secret to Gilbert and pleads him to leave her alone although she is falling in love with him. Soon after she rushes back to her husband...
References: 1. ELIOT, George. The mill on the floss. London: Penguin Books, 1994, 534 s. Penguin popular classics. ISBN 01-406-2027-3.
2. BRONTË, Anne a Herbert ROSENGARTEN. The tenant of Wildfell Hall. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. ISBN 01-404-3474-7.
3. The Mill on the Floss: Analysis of Major Characters. In: SparkNotes [online]. [cit. 2012-02-14]. Dostupné z: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/millonthefloss/canalysis.html
4. The Mill on the Floss. In: Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia [online]. San Francisco (CA): Wikimedia Foundation, 2001- [cit. 2012-02-14]. Dostupné: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mill_on_the_Floss
5. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In: Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia [online]. San Francisco (CA): Wikimedia Foundation, 2001- [cit. 2012-02-14].
6. Ussher, Jane, Women’s Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? (Harlow: Prentice Hall, 1991)
7. Critics of Wildfell Hall. In: DOWNEY, Glen. Victorian web [online]. [cit. 2012-02-14]. Dostupné z: http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/bronte/abronte/downey2.html
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