The Coming Woman: A Study of Idealized, Secondary Female Characters in Victorian Novels

Date
2023
Authors
Brown, Rachel
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Abstract

Idealized, secondary female characters in Victorian novels are disliked and disregarded by most readers because they are deemed too good, unrelatable, flat, or unimportant. As soon as readers realize these characters are idealized, many readers assume they represent the typical Victorian ideal of the “angel in the house” and dismiss them. However, if read more closely and studied more carefully, readers will realize that these characters often represent a different kind of ideal that more accurately represents who women are and what they are capable of: the coming woman ideal. By analyzing Agnes Wickfield, Helen Burns, and Mary Garth as full-fledged characters, one can realize how these characters, who embody the coming woman, are worthy of study and appreciation in and of themselves. They can help readers better appreciate authors, other characters, and the novels themselves.

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Keywords
Victorian., Victorian novel., Minor characters., Angel in the house., Secondary Characters., 19th Century., Female characters., Heroine., Idealized., Idealized characters., Victorian literature., 19th century literature., Charles Dickens., George Eliot., Charlotte Bronte., Jane Eyre., Mary Garth., Agnes Wickfield., Middlemarch., David Copperfield.
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