Is the angel still in the house?: changes in female ideals in nineteenth-and twentieth-century literature
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The following paper is an analysis of the ways in which Conventry Patmore s image of female perfection, the Angel in the House, and the ideals which it embodies have affected literary works by nineteenth-and twentieth-century female authors. I used selected literary works from Louisa May Alcott and Virginia Woolf to represent the overall societal beliefs of the authors time periods. By viewing the changes in the authors attitudes toward the image and the strength with which the society enforce Angelic female ideals, one can see the changes in the societal expectations for female behavior and, therefore, the changes in women s freedom and equality. I discuss women s struggle to overcome the Angel image, which assumes that all women should submissively devote themselves to the institutions of domesticity, marriage, and motherhood. I also explored the question of whether or not we have any cultural or literary image that would embody the current beliefs about the ideal characteristics of womanhood. I found that women of the 1990 s must still face ideals, which, although they vary from the Angelic characteristics listed in Patmore s poem, shape women s self-perceptions. Therefore, in the past two centuries, the Angel image has affected women s lives as well as their literary works.
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Includes bibliographical references: leaves 43-44.
Griffin, Cynthia (1998). Is the angel still in the house?: changes in female ideals in nineteenth-and twentieth-century literature. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from