Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2020, Page: 116-123
Gender Ambiguity, Domesticity and The Public Space: The Case of Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White
Debora Antonietta Sarnelli, Department of Humanities, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy
Received: Sep. 1, 2020;       Accepted: Sep. 23, 2020;       Published: Oct. 12, 2020
DOI: 10.11648/j.ellc.20200503.17      View  81      Downloads  48
Starting from Linda Brannon’s “the Doctrine of Two Spheres” (Brannon 2004) and Barbara Welter’s “the Cult of True Womanhood” (Welter 2000), the contribution aims at analyzing how the “Doctrine of Two Spheres” is clearly visible in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1859), where the main protagonists’ personalities and behaviors reveal both the preservation and subversion of the separate spheres ideology. The novel is shaped around the dichotomy between two half-sisters, that embody two contrasting forms of femininity. Laura epitomizes the Angel in the House, Marian, by contrast is a liminal figure, characterized by gender ambiguity. She is masculine in her physical appearance and in her behaviors. She constantly moves between gender roles and between the public and domestic space. Similarly, the two male protagonists of the novel, Walter and Count Fosco, are at the antipodes of each other. Walter, after a ‘bildung journey’ towards masculinity, acquires the typical masculine attributes of a Victorian man. Count Fosco, like Marian, is characterized by gender ambiguity. He moves between gender roles, disclosing feminine features and cherishing ladylike habits. In the end, Fosco and Marian’s gender ambiguity is punished with death: death by assassination for the villain, symbolic and social death for Marian the spinster, thus re-establishing Victorian gender roles.
Gender Ambiguity, Domesticity, Womanhood, Sensationalism, Victorianism
To cite this article
Debora Antonietta Sarnelli, Gender Ambiguity, Domesticity and The Public Space: The Case of Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, English Language, Literature & Culture. Vol. 5, No. 3, 2020, pp. 116-123. doi: 10.11648/j.ellc.20200503.17
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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