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Idea of Progress : what vision of women is delivered in literature and what is its evolution

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Oulmi Morjana                                                                                                       TL                       

                     Synthèse d'Anglais                     


     During the century, the influence and the vision of women have change a lot thanks to these feminists like Olympe de Gouges who fight for their right. Someone once said « There is more unknow than the unknow soldier : his wife ». This makes me think about a notion we studied this year. Indeed, we talked about the idea of progress which is for a society or for  humanity, the evolution in the sense of an improvement. However, we focused on the situation of women in the 19th Century literature.

     Thus, we can wondering on what is the vision of women through literature and her evolution ?

       First, we will see how women appeared in novels and then we will dig further into the topic and see that they have evolved.

     Since a moment, the image of women in literature wasn't good. Indeed, women were seen as dependent on men. We can observe this on several novels but we will focus on one example we studied. This document is an extract from Pride and Prejudice which was written by Jane Austen and was published in 1813. In this extract, we can notice two main characters who are Mr. And Mrs.Bennet. Both of them are talking about other mentionned characters who are their daughters and Mr.Bingley, an eligible who just arrived in town. We are in the 19th century. We can guess it thanks to the mother's behaviour as her only goal is to marry one of her daughters to Bingley lest they ends up living as spinsters. Moreover, this appear to be an opportunity to the family to increase their wealth. This, show us the importance of men in the 19th century society and to what extent the woman was dependent on them. Indeed, women are young when they get married, they seeks love because it was a shame to be single so it was very important to their parent that they get married to an eligible bachelor for their image. Women were considered inferior to man and have no rights and we can observe this too in the second document which we have studied in class.

      The document is an extract from an adaptation of Sense and Sensibility released in 2008 by the BBC and written by the same writter of the first document, Jane Austen in 1811. In this extract, there are two main characters : Eleanor and Marianne, the Dashwood sisters. We also get aquainted with Willoughby. When Marianne sees him, she asks him if he has received the letter she sent but apparently, he didn't. Because of this, Marianne feels desperate, she ends up fainting. We can deduce that she is controled by her feelings. This document show us too the image of the women that are dependent on men by her feelings. The women are often represented as broken-hearted and who doesn't recover of their love story, they were represented as being controlled by their feelings.Women in the 19th century were confined in the « private sphere », indeed the image of the woman were the one which stays at home to clean, to cook and to take care of children and that's in this way that the woman is discribed in most of novels.


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