Tracing the progression of images of womens bodies through nearly two centuries of literature, Fasick analyzes selected novels from Samuel Richardson to D. H. Lawrence to construct a historical overview of class and gender relations as reflected andMoreTracing the progression of images of womens bodies through nearly two centuries of literature, Fasick analyzes selected novels from Samuel Richardson to D.
H. Lawrence to construct a historical overview of class and gender relations as reflected and refracted in the pages of the English novel. Though recent discussion and womens roles in literature and culture has centered on womens sexuality as the defining factor in the female character, Fasick focuses instead on ways that writers have depicted women as possessing nurturing qualities that distinguish them from men. Rigid adherence to this idealization of femininity constructs a standard difficult for women to achieve. Held to the ideal, Fasick asserts, women appear grossly culpable rather than simply human.
Fasick begins with an analysis of Samuel Richardsons novels that examines three linked themes: sensibility, maternity, and anorexia. She continues with a discussion of Frances Burneys treatment of the expressive female body. She then analyzes novels by Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Bronte in light of Victorian attitudes toward women and food and toward female invalidism.
In conclusion, she returns to Richardson, pairing his novel Pamela with Lawrences Lady Chatterleys Lover for an examination of cross-class romance and the resulting implications for class and gender. Throughout, references to conduct books and periodical literature of the time provide contexts that illuminate the primary texts. Fasicks insights will interest students of the novel, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fiction, womens studies and gender studies, and class relations in literature.