The Victorian Woman in Mary Barton and Mill on the Floss: What Causes the Angel to Fall
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The role of the fallen woman intrigued Victorian society. Like much literature, this character reflected the time period she was a part of, but what signals did popular authors provide to show that a character was fallen? And did those authors argue against modern mindsets that a fallen woman could never reintegrate successfully into society after her fall? To answer these questions, I analyzed the clues George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell provided to show their readers a female character was fallen. These characters violated three key social mores: they wore clothes outside of their class, they worked, and they displayed improper mannerisms. I suggest that Eliot and Gaskell, in Mill on the Floss and Mary Barton, utilize elements of reality in their novels to inspire the reader to sympathize with their characters.