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A Favorable Portrayal of Women in Dickens' Novels

  • Date Submitted: 05/23/2011 02:47 AM
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A Favorable Portrayal of Women in Dickens' Novels
    Uploaded by crapples on Jun 12, 2006 | |
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  A Favorable Portrayal of Women in Dickens' Novels

In many books and movies, women take a backseat when it comes to being characters of strength or impact. They are most always presented as the weaker of sexes, and can usually be found in a vulnerable position waiting to be rescued by the stronger, more appealing male hero. To find a woman of strength in a book written before the women’s rights movements of the 20th century, it would take a bit of scouring and detective work. Yet Charles Dickens provides multiple unnatural female characters in A Tale of Two Cities that prove this gender stereotype incorrect. He portrays strong, loving, even power-hungry women in order to present his thoughts on his idea of the “perfect woman”. Through the use of Ms. Pross, Madame Defarge, and Lucie Manette, Dickens defies conventional trends, presenting his women as pillars of strength and steadiness to promote his views throughout A Tale of Two Cities.

Ms. Pross is a focused woman who lets nothing get in the way of her desired objectives. Being the lifelong servant to Lucie Manette in the absence of her father, Ms. Pross is Lucie’s sole confidant before her father returns from prison. It comes as no surprise that Ms. Pross considers it her life duty to protect Lucie and always look out for her. She presents her strength to the reader in her initial scene after her “ladybird” (100) Lucie has fainted, as “laying a brawny hand upon his chest, [sends] him flying back against the nearest wall” (35). Despite her strong physical and emotional traits, Ms. Pross also holds the most natural female role in the novel. She functions as a servant to the Manette’s; always taking a backseat to less appealing male characters, and always promotes her despicable brother Solomon (a.k.a. John Barsad). Rarely does Ms. Pross call attention to herself, and never does she put her needs above...

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