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«Verfasserin Julia Lackermayer angestrebter akademischer Grad Magistra der Anglistik und Amerikanistik (Mag.phil) Wien, im Oktober 2008 ...»

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Diplomarbeit

Titel der Diplomarbeit

“From the Fallen to the New Woman:

Late Victorian and Edwardian Drama”

Verfasserin

Julia Lackermayer

angestrebter akademischer Grad

Magistra der Anglistik und Amerikanistik (Mag.phil)

Wien, im Oktober 2008

Studienkennzahl lt. Studienblatt: A343 315

Studienrichtung lt. Studienblatt: Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Kunstgeschichte

Betreuer: Ao. Univ-Prof. Dr. Rudolf Weiss

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rudolf Weiss for his advice and patience, and my family, especially Bernard and Charlene, for their encouragement and support.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction………………………………………………………………… 1

2. Historical Background…………………………………………………….. 3

2.1. Women and Education…………………………………………………….. 5 2.1.1. Girls‘ Colleges…………………………………………………………... 5 2.1.2. Universities……………………………………………………………… 6

2.2. Women and Politics……………………………………………………….. 7 2.2.1. The Origins of the Women’s Suffrage Movement……………………… 7 2.2.2. The Rise of the Suffragists……………………………………………… 9 2.2.3. The Rise of the Suffragettes…………………………………………….. 11

2.3. Women and Employment…………………………………………………. 13

2.4. Women and Marriage……………………………………………………... 14

3. The Construction of Women……………………………………………… 17

3.1. The Angel in the House…………………………………………………… 18

3.2. The Fallen Woman………………………………………………………... 24

3.3. The New Woman………………………………………………………….. 25 3.3.1. The Birth of the New Woman…………………………………………... 26 3.3.2. Defining the New Woman………………………………………………. 27 3.3.3. Arguments For and Against the New Woman…………………………... 28 3.3.4. The New Woman in Fiction…………………………………………….. 30

4. Victorian and Edwardian Drama………………………………………… 32

4.1. Overview………………………………………………………………….. 32

4.2. Fallen Women……………………………………………………………... 33 4.2.1. Lost in London – Nelly Armroyd……………………………………….. 35 4.2.2. The Dancing Girl – Drusilla Ives………………………….……………. 39

4.3. The Transition from the Fallen to the New Woman………………………. 42 4.3.1. The Case of Rebellious Susan –Susan Harabin & Elaine Shrimpton…… 42 4.3.2. Penelope – Penelope O’Farrell & Ada Fergusson…………..………….. 49 4.3.3. The New Woman – Margery Cazenove & Agnes Sylvester…………….. 58 4.3.4. Iris – Iris Bellamy………………………………………………..……… 66 4.3.5. A Woman of No Importance – Rachel Arbuthnot……………………….. 73 4.3.6. The Eldest Son – Freda Studdenham……………………………………. 82

4.4. New Women……………………………………………………….…. 87 4.4.1. Jane Clegg – Jane Clegg…………………………………………… 87 4.4.2. Independent Means – Sydney Forsyth……………………………… 93 4.4.3. Hindle Wakes – Fanny Hawthorne…………………………………. 100 4.4.4. How the Vote Was Won…………………………………………….. 110 4.4.5. Edith – Edith Stott…………………...……………………………... 113

5. Conclusion………………………………………………………….….. 117

6. Bibliography…………………………………………………………… 120

7. Index…………………………………………………………………… 128

8. Appendix……………………………………………………………….. 134

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1. Introduction

The core of this diploma thesis are the changing roles of women in late Victorian and Edwardian Great Britain – from the Fallen to the New Woman – as represented in the dramatic of the period. The main focus will be on the time span 1867 to 1913, which marks the years of the premieres of the earliest and the latest play under discussion respectively. I will, however, try to embed the relevant social and literary concerns of that era in a wider historical context in order to show that these transformations affecting British society and culture did not take place within a closed and easily defined period of time, but were rather part of a temporal continuum. These changes, then, concerned reformations in the domestic and private sphere with women’s reconsideration of established patterns of marriage and motherhood, on the one hand, and women’s gradual venture into the more public sphere, their involvement in education, employment and politics, on the other hand.





Moreover, a discussion of the socio-cultural facts and the corresponding discourses of these decades with regard to the position of women and the associated Woman Question will prove to be useful in analysing fiction, or rather drama, as the latter was largely motivated by the former. In this context, Martha Vicinus, for example, points out that [t]he classic works of Victorian literature cannot tell us much specifically about female suffrage, the rising number of single women, or job opportunities, but they can illuminate the emotional conflicts and resolutions of men and women concerned with woman’s proper place.

(Vicinus, xii) The first part of this paper will therefore be primarily concerned with the historical background and the changes on the level of education, employment, marriage and politics. The second part will be directed at a clarification of the concepts of the Fallen Woman and the New Woman, their relation to the ideal woman as the Angel in the House and the further implications of these three models with respect to fact and fiction.

The third and most prominent part will aim to discuss plays of the period in question and, as a further step, to relate these dramatic works to the socio-cultural

-2situation in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. The focus will be on Watts Phillips’ Lost in London, Henry Arthur Jones’s The Dancing Girl and The Case of Rebellious Susan, Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance, Arthur Wing Pinero’s Iris, Sidney Grundy’s The New Woman, William Somerset Maugham’s Penelope, John Galsworthy’s The Eldest Son, St John Ervine’s Jane Clegg, Elizabeth Baker’s Edith, Cicely Hamilton’s and Christopher St John’s How the Vote Was Won, and Stanley Houghton’s Independent Means and Hindle Wakes.

-3

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2. Historical Background

The changing roles of British women and their increasing independence throughout the 20th century are linked to various transformations on different societal levels taking place over the second half of the 19th century in England and especially towards the end of it. As Gail Cunningham points out, the age of the finde-siècle could be seen as a time where social change took place on various areas in British society with decadence, dandyism and seemingly loose moral values, on the one hand, and debates on how to restrain them, on the other hand. 1 As a result, ‘[i]nstability was the recurrent theme of the cultural politics […] and gender was arguably the most destabilizing category’ (Ledger, Cultural Politics, 22), as Sally Ledger points out. Fixed gender roles began to be questioned and a new kind of woman, later simply termed the ‘New Woman’, began to emerge. In this context, Ledger argues that [i]t’s no coincidence that the New Woman materialized alongside the decadent and the dandy. Whilst the New Woman was perceived as a direct threat to classic Victorian definitions of femininity, the decadent and the dandy undermined Victorians’ valorization of a robust, muscular brand of British masculinity deemed to be crucial to the maintenance of the British Empire. (Ledger, Cultural Politics, 22) The New Woman essentially differed from the notion of the Angel in the House by demanding a function in the public sphere. She was a woman that spoke up for her right to education, the vote and the earning of a living, and, thus, to generally become more independent of men. This development, in turn, tended to arouse debates among men, who either belittled this strife for emancipation or considered it as a virtual threat to the social system in general, and marriage and the family in particular. Cunningham further points out that the crucial factor for ‘the elevation of the New Woman into a symbol of all that was most challenging and dangerous in advanced thinking […] was, inevitably, sex’ (Cunningham, 2). It became more and more clear that women, who had largely been regarded as ‘sexless’, had to say

something on subjects of sexuality as well:

–  –  –

Venereal disease, contraception, divorce and adultery were made the common talking points of the new womanhood. And marriage, traditionally regarded as woman’s ultimate goal and highest reward, came in for a tremendous battery of criticism. (Cunningham, 2) The revolutionary idea behind the importance of sexuality in the discourses about the New Woman was that female sexuality had lost some of its stigma. Previously only prostitutes or ‘fallen’ women had been associated with being sexually active, as will be discussed in more detailed below. While the two latter types of the female can be interpreted as belonging to the past, the New Woman, as the term already indicates, was an innovation, a phenomenon to which the established definitions could not easily be transferred. Furthermore, the widespread opinion, especially among men, was that the New Woman represented a threat to the social order. Cunningham again argues that [d]espite the circumlocutions, it is clear that the New Woman is regarded as a highly sexual being, all the more dangerous since she cannot be dismissed as a prostitute or a fallen woman. (Cunningham, 14) It is equally important to note that the New Woman is essentially a middle-class phenomenon, which also finds its manifestation in the texts to be analysed.

Moreover, this observation also accounts for the fact that the following discussion of the social reality concerning women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will be mainly focused on the middle classes. The issue of working-class women will, however, also be mentioned in a later chapter analysing Stanley Houghton’s play Hindle Wakes, which is set in a working-class environment.

As already pointed out, the status of women in society, their political and legal rights, generally summarised under the term ‘Woman Question’, became one of the major concerns of public debate in the second half of the 19th century. Martha Vicinus points out that

–  –  –

Therefore, in order to obtain a broader picture of the socio-cultural situation surrounding the plays to be discussed, it will prove constructive to examine the various transformations throughout the second half of the 19th century and relate them to the growing emancipation of women at that time.

2.1. Women and Education 2.1.1. Girls’ Colleges A first step towards gaining some independence for women was the establishment of new educational opportunities. It should be noted that girls’ schools existed before the changes that began to emerge around the middle of the 19th century.

They were usually fee-paying and for girls from a middle-class background, but the emphasis of the curriculum was less on the acquirement of academic skills but rather on the development of the appropriate feminine accomplishments.2 Women’s access to secondary education was facilitated by the establishment of the first female colleges, Queen’s College and Bedford College in London in 1848 and 1849, from which the first generation of well-qualified female teachers emerged, which for years proved to be almost ‘the only respectable profession for middleclass women’ (Vicinus, xvii). In 1850 and 1854 the foundations of North London Collegiate College and Cheltenham Ladies College followed.

As Philippa Levine points out, women considered education as a way to gradually obtain various other liberties as well. It was conceived

–  –  –

In the debates on the question of female education, the voices against it came up with a wide range of different arguments. They claimed, for example, that the

–  –  –

energy absorbed by studying would later be lacking in women’s capacity for reproduction, and that their withdrawal from primarily domestic concerns ‘would serve to undermine family life’ (Levine, 26).

One of the leading personalities involved in the struggle for women’s access to higher education was the feminist Emily Davies. She held the opinion that girls should receive the same educational opportunities as boys.3 Others argued that the primary aim of female education should be to prepare women for a future as wives and mothers by focusing on domestic science classes.4 Dorothea Beale, the principal of Cheltenham Ladies College, for instance, stated that her goal was to educate ‘girls so that they may best perform that subordinate part in the world to which, [she] believe[d], they ha[d] been called’ (Beale, quoted in Lewis, Women in England, 91).

2.1.2. Universities

In the 1860s, debates largely concerned the question whether women should be granted permission to sit university examinations. In 1863, Cambridge consented to a trial run for girls, a scheme which was permanently established in 1865 after it passed through the Senate of the University by a narrow majority of 55 to 51.



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