A Literary Trope Of Margaret Gaskell's Angel In The House

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The ‘New Woman’ was a literary trope that emerged in the late nineteenth century out of a number of prose narratives and non-fiction essays. It was a response: an ideal of sorts, as a foil to the conventional ‘Angel In The House’ model of femininity: a result of increased opportunities for women arising in the public sector as a result of industrial growth in the 1850’s. Activist and writer, Sarah Grand coined the phrase ‘New Woman’ in her article "The New Aspect of the Woman Question" (1894) and the term was further popularized by British-American writer Henry James; it describes an overall growth in education, independence and career-orientation among women in Europe and the United States; a foregrounding for the later suffragette movement…show more content…
In Margaret we observe the union of characteristically masculine merits of action, self-reliance, authority as well as the feminine instincts of placation, qualities of virtue and selflessness, dependence and tenderness. Gaskell balances her heroine between the feminine and the masculine so as not to appear “unwomanly”, but rather subtly influence readers and call for a change in or at least bringing under public scrutiny the existing gender norms: ‘the angel in the house’, ‘the female visitor’ and ‘the refined lady’.
Gaskell describes Margaret as "Her mouth was wide; no rosebud that could open only just enough to let out a 'yes ' and 'no, ' and 'an 't please you, sir '" (1.2.4)
Gilbert and Gubar argue that nineteenth-century women’s education in femininity aimed at making them “desire to be beautiful and ‘frail’” Margaret shows disdain for the ideals, protesting that she is not “one of those poor sickly women who like to lie on rose leaves, and be fanned all day” (151). (54). Gaskell, contrasts the weak and sickly Mrs. Hale with her sturdy daughter and not only ridicules the Victorian ideal of frailty in women, but she also enhances her portrayal of Margaret’s strength and

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