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Thread: Dickens' Most Vacuous Heroine

  1. #16
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson Richardson View Post
    Thank you for that Danik. When I studied To the Lighthouse at school it was an aspect of Mrs Woolf (as we were taught to refer to her) that wasn’t mentioned. (Although Mrs Ramsey in To the Lighthouse seems to be a Bloomsbury Angel in the House, as far as I remember.)

    But I wonder if it is relevant to Dickens’ vacuous heroines. The Angel in the House may be an infuriating stereotype, but running a home with affection and efficiency requires character and backbone.

    Dora Spenlow is hopeless as a housekeeper, despite all her efforts. She seems to me a parody of the pretty, vacuous heroine. I doubt whether Dickens’ earlier drippy heroines would be any better.
    Jackson. I donītn think Dickens himself would consider most of the female characters we mentioned here as vacuous. In fact he probably would be offended, if anyone would point out the vacuousness of Rosa Maylie & co. For him it seems they were perfect women, something that included being self efacing and good housewives. Which only proves how much the model of the Angel of the House was incorporated by him.
    The problem with Dora is that she doesnīt pass the Angel of the House test: she is not a good housewife and, if I remember rightly she asks forgiveness for it on her deathbed. She also is somewhat willful and childish. But there is always the sacrificial lamb to take over (Agnes as coming from agnus).
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 01-25-2018 at 09:00 AM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
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  2. #17
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I don't think Dora can be accused of being vacuous. She's not very clever, but she thinks about things. It is quite painful when she says things to David which show she has been reflecting on his criticisms of her, like asking him to regard her as his child-wife, or when she challenges him that they are not making the servants more dishonest by not overseeing them more closely. This was something David said to her months previously. You suspect when a couple get married early in a Victorian book that it is not going to work out well, but I had no idea it would go wrong the way it did.
    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

  3. #18
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Dora has distinguishable traits of personality. Some biographers even suggest that she was inspired by Dickenīs own mother.

    In this sense she is opposed to the Dickensian heroines that exist in all Dickenīs novels, who are perfect, but lack any individuality.
    I think Kate Nickleby and Madeleine from the same novel can be added to the lot.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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