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Title: Individuation of middle class women in British fiction, 1848-1914
Author: Garrod, Christina M.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1984
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Individuation is defined as the raising of consciousness, the process leading to individual existence as distinct from that of the group. The history of the concept is examined in the work of Hegel, Marx, Durkheim and others. Applying the theories of these philosophers and sociologists to the situation of middle class woman in Victorian England, it is hypothesised that individuation results when she transcends her existing role; is given freedom to choose between alternative roles; the division of labour sees the development of individual consciousness; and achieved rather than ascribed characteristics are the basis of roles. The relationship between literature and society is examined; fiction can have a normative influence or may be innovative. An ideal type of Victorian womanhood, the Perfect Lady, is constructed by reference to contemporary social documents and histories. Her life space and consciousness are described in detail. The actual life style of women in 1850 and relevant social, legal and technological developments which occurred over the next seventy years are presented, with supporting statistics. These facts are related to the hypotheses, and it is found that the conditions posited as necessary for the development of consciousness were gradually being met during the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The novels are divided into four groups: 1848--1870's; George Meredith's work; 1870's-1900's; and 1900's-1914. In each category thelives of the leading female characters are charted with reference to the ideal type. Finally, the heroines are ranged against the statistical data for an assessment of realism in the novels. The factors to which the novelists attribute increased consciousness are compared to the advances made in British society at the time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature