Division of Liberal Arts and Science Faculty of Arts Tokyo Polytechnic University
- 芸術世界 (ISSN:13493450)
- no.13, pp.87-96, 2007
The relationship of women and literature changed radically by the mid eighteenth century in England. Samuel Richardson's Pamela, which has been often called 'the first novel', focuses the inner experience of a woman. It gave such a great impact upon the society that it determined the heroine type of the following novels throughout the century ; young, beautiful, modest, and vulnerable. It also represented gender positions and politics ; man provided with wealth, being superior, and woman deprived and dependent, inferior. Women had been disadvantaged because of some changes in kinship structures, economic processes, and legal arrangements by the beginning of the century. They first encountered a serious problem of an alienated self. The situation often placed a woman as the main character of the novel. In spite of the realism tradition of the English novels, women writers sometimes adopt a "romance" structure, the traditional pattern from the classic period, in which a prince or a princess is abandoned, adopted and raised by a kind shepherd, eventually recovers his/her original status and wealth. Although this story appears to be a kind of anachronism in the modern bourgeois society, it flourishes in the best-seller novels by women at the end of 18th century. Four novels will be discussed in this article ; Evelina (1778) by Frances Burney, Emmeline (1788) by Charlotte Smith, A Simple Story (1791) by Elizabeth Inchbald and The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe (1791). These novels bear an implicit resentment of women deprived of the resources to support themselves, trying to convey a challenging message under the disguise of a conservative attitude to the maledominated society.