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The Virtuous And Vixenish Dichotomy In Literature How The Composers Of Vanity Fair, The Taming Of The Shrew And Sense And Sensibility Felt About The Dichotomy Between Good And Bad Women

1358 words - 6 pages

- Although texts across time have portrayed women in terms of a dichotomy between "good" and "bad", it is frequently unclear exactly how composers feel about that dichotomy.To what extent are the composers of the texts you have studied ambivalent towards their female characters? -Many texts across time have portrayed their women in terms of a dichotomy between "good" and "bad", or "virtuous" and "vixenish". However, it is frequently unclear how the composers feel about that dichotomy, and the women can be seen as both good and bad, depending on the opinions of each individual reader. This blurring of the line separating the good and bad women is evident in examples such as Vanity Fair by ...view middle of the document...

He explains that, because she has been a penniless orphan all her life, without a mother to help her get a husband, she must do it herself, and go to any lengths to get there. Thackeray shows that, while Becky is supposedly the vixenish one, she is the centre of social life, can easily charm anyone she wishes to, and is capable of showing human emotions, e.g. when she cries at Lady Jane Crawley's show of kindness. Thackeray admires Becky's wit and intelligence, and because she has both likeable and despicable qualities, we are unsure whether she is wholly "bad", or "good".In Amelia Sedley, Thackeray establishes the Victorian ideal of the "Angel in the House", a gentle, caring and passive woman who dedicates her life to throwing herself at the feet of her husband. Amelia is honest, pure and pretty, but Thackeray is also ambivalent towards her in terms of the virtuous/vixenish dichotomy. He overpraises her, and by seemingly justifying her actions, he shows her to be a spoilt child, allowed to live in her fantasy world where there is her and George alone, and she has no knowledge of how people outside of that world is doing. Thackeray, using other characters to comment on Amelia, tells us that she is "fade and insipid", and other women hate her because she is what men in the Victorian era are after - the Angel in the House.Amelia upholds the image of the ideal woman in society, but in reality, society likes a woman like Becky, the opposite of Amelia. Here, we see that while Amelia is the ideal "virtuous" woman, the "Angel in the House", it is not necessarily "good" - staying at home and looking sadly at her husband in pity might not be what the husband needs. Amelia is bordering on too gentle, too soft, and too timid, where she bores her husband, and her complete reliance on him puts more pressure on him, instead of being soothing. In this way, Thackeray shows us that the line between "good" and "bad" is very fine, and there is no such thing is definitely virtuous, or definitely vixenish.The women in The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare are governed under similar expectations to the women in Vanity Fair. A good wife must think of her husband as "thy lord, thy king, thy governor", "thy lord, thy life, thy keeper", and treat him so. Women are expected to be loyal, and their husband is like the prince while they are the servants. If women do not follow these strict guidelines, she is considered vixenish.At the beginning of the play, Katherina shows violence to everyone who goes near her, and through her actions and the way she interacts with her father and sister Bianca, the audience is positioned to see...

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