The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women's Bodies by Helena Michie

By Helena Michie

Helena Michie's provocative new paintings appears at how women's our bodies are portrayed in quite a few Victorian literary and non-literary genres--from portray, poems, and novels, to etiquette, books, intercourse manuals, and pornography. After deciding on a sequence of codes and taboos that govern the depiction of ladies in such actions as consuming and dealing, she then turns to the actual descriptions of Victorian heroines, targeting these elements in their our bodies which are erased, and on those who develop into fetishized in traditional description. Her bright research strikes ahead in time with a attention of 20th-century "second wave" feminism and a dialogue of the poetics of the physique as articulated through feminist writers on either side of the Atlantic. applying feminist, poststructuralist, and psychoanalytic bills of the determine of girl, and the relation of the physique to the textual content, The Flesh Made notice bargains clean readings of works by means of writers as various because the Bront?s, Dickens, Eliot, Gaskell, Trollope, Hardy, Adrienne wealthy, Olga Broumas, Audre Lorde, and Louise Gluck.

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From the beginning of her marriage to Dr. "32 She also tries to impress luncheon guests with the fact that she is too delicate to eat meat during the day and tries to convince Dr. Gibson's medical colleagues of both her superior class position and her feminine ill health by only picking at her food in front of them. Metaphors of food and hunger—always, of course, related to the Hunger, Sexuality, and Etiquette 27 larger metaphor of the Fall—can be used to produce a moral taxonomy of female characters.

John when, starving, she goes begging from door to door. Her admission "I was a human being and had a human being's wants" is a declaration of her own hunger in the face of Rochester's rhetoric (Jane Eyre, p. 396). The rest of the novel translates the literal hunger she feels in her Hunger, Sexuality, and Etiquette 25 wanderings into a hunger for passionate love. The intermediate step, acknowledging that she needs food, is a crucial one in her loving struggle with Rochester and with a world that commands her to efface herself and her needs.

This puts a constraint on Molly's behavior to Roger and sets up a barrier between them. Even the puritanical Dorothea Brooke expresses her relations to her work in physical terms. Despite her constant attempts to mortify her flesh by giving up riding and marrying a man without physical attractions, her very philanthropy has its physical roots and expression. In explaining her reasons for planning cottages, her language is revealing in its intense physicality. Dorothea maintains that rich people should be "beaten out of their beautiful houses with a scourge of small cords"20 for not involving themselves in the housing problems of the local poor.

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