• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Women in the Gothic are often presented as one-dimensional as either the virgin or the temptress. How far do you agree with this assessment of the female characters in the Gothic texts that you have studied?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"WOMEN IN THE GOTHIC ARE OFTEN PRESENTED AS ONE-DIMENSIONAL - AS EITHER THE VIRGIN OR THE TEMPTRESS." HOW FAR DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS ASSESSMENT OF THE FEMALE CHARACTERS IN THE GOTHIC TEXTS THAT YOU HAVE STUDIED? The role of women in Gothic texts is often reduced to two stereotypes: one is the virginal maiden, vulnerable and innocent, waiting for a man to save her; the other is the temptress, the strong, dangerous predator who is beyond male control. Such is the case in many Gothic texts, including the seminal work 'Dracula'. While this is the case in Milton's 'Paradise Lost', in Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' and Webster's 'The White Devil' it is not always possible to classify women in such a clear way. The females in both texts are rarely one-dimensional, and if they ever are (as they occasionally are in Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber') they are made so consciously in order to contribute to a pointedly more complex destination. There are very few females in Books I and II of Milton's epic poem 'Paradise Lost'. Of course, Eve is alluded to in passing ("... say first what cause/Moved our great parents in that happy state/... ...read more.

Middle

These characters are neither 'virgins' nor 'temptresses', and are certainly not one-dimensional or predictable. Virginal characters that appear in the collection include the helpless narrator of 'The Bloody Chamber', who lacks the independence to break free of the rules imposed upon her by the very man who she knows means to kill her, and the unequivocally bland and material Beauty of 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon', which is often cited as the weakest story in the collection for its conventional style. However, in these cases, Carter's inclusion of these female stereotypes serves only to emphasise the progressive nature of the mother in 'The Bloody Chamber' and the Beauty in 'The Tiger's Bride'. The girl in 'The Bloody Chamber', the Marquis' "lamb chop", his "bargain", his "virgin of the arpeggios", is so weak that she serves to make the headstrong ferocity of her mother all the more pronounced. In a similar way, the determined individuality of the Beauty in 'The Tiger's Bride' is made all the more prominent by the conventional and insipid Beauty of 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon'. These unconventional women contribute to Carter's challenging of gender boundaries, which forms the ultimate destination of the collection. ...read more.

Conclusion

Regardless of the fact that Vittoria's duplicity is more the product of Flamineo's will than her own, her two-facedness nonetheless shows a complexity and development in character which surpasses the simplicity of the labels of 'temptress' and 'virgin'. These complex amalgams contribute to the centrality of the Machiavellian mentalities in the play, and show that the statements in the title are not always true. In their own ways, then, all of the Gothic texts in question disprove the view proffered. Sin in 'Paradise Lost' is not "either the virgin or the temptress"; she is a (barely developed, admittedly) combination of the two stereotypes - not quite one-dimensional, then, but very close. Carter incorporates fairly one-dimensional only to highlight the unconventional and complex women they interact with or are set against. The women in 'The White Devil' combine the stereotypes as Sin does, rebutting the view in the title, but goes further by making the women conscious of their dichotomy, as they play to both stereotypes to achieve covered motives. Isabella and Vittoria act as they must in order to serve their own ends, and as such cannot be labelled as 'one-dimensional': if any such label must be affixed to their characters, "Machiavellian" would be a much better fit. All three texts, then, challenge the given view. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    He takes his gun and threatens to kill the English patient, whom he sees as a symbol of the West. Kip does not kill Almasy, but takes off on his motorcycle, leaving the villa forever. Years later, he is a doctor in India with a family of his own.

  2. Ambition in "The Duchess of Malfi" and "Paradise Lost"

    The fact that someone who is ambitious will always be disappointed highlights the extremities of the maddening situation in which ambitions can cause torment and eternal suffering from longing to gain more; in this instance the Duchess's brothers attempting to gain control over her actions.

  1. The Female is Nothing But the Body To what extent do you agree with ...

    Offred seems to be partially indoctrinated by the regime here, suggesting that this was her choice, but as we know this is not entirely true, their only other choice was what many would consider a worse fate, going to the 'Colonies' and working in terrible conditions until they died of starvation, radioactive poisoning and other such painful demises.

  2. Free essay

    Discuss the way in which the female characters are presented in the Great Gatsby

    They do not have idealistic, intellectual or artistic dreams. The feminist Kathleen Parkinson wrote: "Another American 'love story' centred on hostility to women and the comitant strategy of the scapegoat...No dead Gatsby but surviving Daisy is the object of the novel's hostility and its scapegoat."

  1. English Literature - crossing boundaries in the Gothic

    Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) as well offers fertile ground for this essay. The men of the novel do also 'cross' a metaphorical emotional 'boundary' in the final chapters of the text. It is a poignantly-governed change, essentially being brought upon them as a consequence of the horrific transformation (indeed 'transgression')

  2. Comparing the Role of Women in Sense and Sensibility and Othello

    When Desdemona elopes with the Moor, Rodrigo tells Brabantio, "Zounds, sir, you're robbed!" (I.I.98). Literally, Brabantio is told that he has been robbed of something. In the sixteenth century, women and men did not have equal rights thus men treat women like property.

  1. 'The Metamorphosis' and 'The Road'The isolation in both texts highlights the despair and nothingness ...

    Road' have turned to cannibalism which therefore accepts Aristotle's idea of 'political animals' furthermore shows the positive effect of isolation as the people who are isolated such as the boy and the man; the family near the end of the novel and Ely have restrained from cannibalism and still have some good left in them.

  2. Twentieth century literature often portrays the relationship between men and women as deeply problematic. ...

    so quick, gave Bertha a curious shiver.? Bertha is seen trying to reawaken Harry?s sexual interest in her by dressing up in a combination of the colours white and green, colours reminiscent of ?the white flesh of the lobster? and ?the green of pistachio ices? which roused in Harry a ?shameless passion?.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work