Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Countries in Literature

Free Souls Imprisoned-Tragic Marriage in Middlemarch and the Portrait of a Lady

Author LiZhenHua
Tutor ZhangDingZuo
School Shanghai International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Middlemarch The Portrait of a Lady tragedy defects of character social causes feminine consciousness
CLC I561
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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This thesis discusses how the ardent and free-minded young women give up their high aspiration and pursuit of independence when confronted with the harsh reality of the male-dominated society. The paper is going to concentrate upon Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of George Eliot’s masterpiece Middlemarch and Isabel Archer, the heroine of Henry James’s most applauded work The Portrait of a Lady. It will make an analysis upon the heroines’tragic marriages and trace the causes of their tragic fate.The introduction of the paper opens with a sketch upon the women’s living conditions in the 19th century. Then it will focus upon the authors’living experience and the formation of their feminine consciousness.The first and the second chapter of the paper concentrate upon Dorothea Brooke’s and Isabel Archer’s marital experience. It is apparent that both the heroines are intelligent girls with an ardent nature. They long to realize their high aspirations and keep their individuality and independence in a male-dominated society. Yet both of them have to conform to the traditional standards of womanhood and give up their aspirations after their marriage.The third part of the paper will delve into the causes of the heroines’tragic fate. Their tragedies are brought about by the defects in their nature to a certain extent. There are also social causes for the girls’marital tragedies. Meanness of opportunity for the females, worship of cult of the lady, belief in the necessity of suffering and fear of adultery, all these elements help to keep Dorothea and Isabel to the yoke of marriage. Besides, the heroines’fate is a reflection of the authors’feminine consciousness.

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