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Thread: Female characters.

  1. #1
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    Female characters.

    I don't know if anyone else agrees, but I loved the scene near the end between Miss Pross and Madame Defarges! I thought it was amazing: funny and dramatic at the same time. I found Miss Pross to be the best female character on the book, since the others could be classified under two categories: the sweet, dull, innocent and pretty Lucie (who always seemed to me like an annoying damsel in distress); and the strong, yet sociopathic women like Madame Defarges and The Vengeance. Miss Pross is at last the example of a good woman who is also strong and brave.
    On a side note: Sydney Carton seemed form the very beginning a much more interesting character than Charles Darnay. He has en edge, he is dark, mysterious, self-destructive, reflective, moody, tormented, and far more intense than any other character in the book. In fact, he's the only one whose love for the insipid Lucie I get: she's sunny, cute, sweet and balanced; the opposite and complement to his own character (which he himself despises) and the representation of everything he is not and everything he knows he will never be.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I haven't read it. Isn't Dickens sometimes criticised for generally making his female characters a bit insipid? He's said to be good at children but not so good at women.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    I haven't read it. Isn't Dickens sometimes criticised for generally making his female characters a bit insipid? He's said to be good at children but not so good at women.
    Thank you so much for your input! I had never heard that before, so it’s interesting to find out that it wasn’t just my perception.

    *** SPOILER ALERT***

    This scene I’m relating (Chapter 44) is my favorite in the whole novel.
    Miss Pross is a simple, strong, no-nonsense Englishwoman who only cares about Lucie (who she’s taken care of since her childhood) and is not concerned with greater political issues or anything else. Her only weakness, other than Lucie, is her scoundrel of a brother, who she nonetheless seems to adore, proving once again just how loyal and constant her affections are.
    Madame Defarge, on the other hand, is a woman who’s been through a lot, but who now has an insatiable thirst of blood, to the point that she no longer cares where it comes from and is more than willing to have a man executed for the sins of his father and uncle, along with his wife, young daughter, and perhaps even his father in law (to whom the same Madame Defarge is morally indebted).
    Miss Pross is so swift to act in that final moment of peril, so courageous and so determined to protect Lucie (“her Ladybird”) that it is very moving. I couldn’t help but laugh (because the dialog between both women is amazing as neither of them speak the other’s language, so it’s not a true dialog at all!) but also I couldn’t help tearing up a bit, feeling completely shaken by this force of nature that is Miss Pross and the power of her love for her Ladybird. I quote: “(...) Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle that they had. The two hands of Madame Defarge buffeted and tore her face; but, Miss Pross, with her head down, held her round the waist, and clung to her with more than the hold of a drowning woman.”
    At one point, earlier in the confrontation, when Miss Pross says: “You might, from your appearance, be the wife of Lucifer, nevertheless, you shall not get the better of me. I am an Englishwoman." I was so immersed in her character and situation that I too felt proud to be an Englishwoman right then, for all it stood for, and I am not even English!!!
    And in all this, she never loses her humanity, being her first instinct to seek help the minute Madame Defarge gets shot, and when she realizes that she’s involuntarily killed her in the struggle, she sobs. That’s what I find refreshing: finally we get a female character who is strong, feisty and determined, other than the sociopathic Madame Defarge and her side-kick, “The Vengeance”.
    Anyway, it’s moments like these that, to me, make the book so compelling!

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev67 View Post
    I haven't read it. Isn't Dickens sometimes criticised for generally making his female characters a bit insipid? He's said to be good at children but not so good at women.
    There are better female characters out there than you find in Dickens, but there are strong, well-developed female characters throughout his works.

    Mme. Defarge - A Tale of Two Cities
    Nancy - Oliver Twist
    Mrs. Haversham and Estella - Great Expectations
    Louisa - Hard Times

    and the best....

    Lady Dedlock - Bleak House

    There are others; these are just my personal favourites.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    There are better female characters out there than you find in Dickens, but there are strong, well-developed female characters throughout his works.

    Mme. Defarge - A Tale of Two Cities
    Nancy - Oliver Twist
    Mrs. Haversham and Estella - Great Expectations
    Louisa - Hard Times

    and the best....

    Lady Dedlock - Bleak House

    There are others; these are just my personal favourites.
    That's good to know. I have only read Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. Miss Haversham and Estella certainly weren't insipid, just demented and cruel. Come to think of it, Mrs Joe was cruel too, but in not an interesting way.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I wouldn't mind Lucie for my missus. She's beautiful, devoted, a dedicated wife and mother (and daughter). From a male point of view, what's not to like? Mme Defarge is am awful villainess. She gets worse and worse as the book goes on. I have been thinking about Miss Pross. She is similar to other female servants that I have read about in Victorian literature; for ecample, Miss Dixon in North and South, and especially Nellie Dean in Wuthering Heights. These are women who devoted themselves to their mistresses, giving up the chance to be wives and mothers themselves. Miss Dixon and Nellie Dean were written by women authors; therefore not male idealizations. I liked the showdown by Miss Pross and Mme Defarge, but TBH, I thought it would have been better if Miss Pross had deliberately killed Mmd Defarge rather than it being a sort of accident.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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