Investigating social ideals at the Fin-de-Siècle: challenging Victorian values in Sarah Grand’s New Woman trilogy
LE3 .A278 2020
Master of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis explores how Sarah Grand’s trilogy, Ideala, The Heavenly Twins, and The Beth Book, challenges received standards and values at the turn of the twentieth century. These three novels depict the social anxiety around cultural change at the Fin-de-Siècle, and I argue that they also offer the beginning of change. The trilogy focuses on prevalent Victorian beliefs involving women, such as gender roles and marriage, and examines how they were enforced through legal constraints and social expectations. This thesis shows the consequences of such beliefs for society, and more specifically for women, as in her trilogy she reveals the dangers of syphilis and gender inequality. In order to do this, this thesis demonstrates how the trilogy format gradually introduces progressive ideologies and develops characters over the course of the three novels to depict Grand’s New Woman ideal and, ultimately, to put forward a vision for women in the new century.
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