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Discuss the role of women - as villains, victims and heroes in a selection of Victorian short stories.

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Introduction

Victorian Short Stories Discuss the role of women - as villains, victims and heroes in a selection of Victorian short stories. In the 19th Century the only type of people who could read and write were people in upper class families. Remembered for being such a class conscious society, the 19th century rarely ever mixed regarding their status in the society, this was the greatest divide ever between rich and poor. As well as their being a division between rich and poor, there was also a division between the sexes. Women were automatically given the lower status between men and women and they were seen as lower, less able people by men. Seeing as Victorian short stories were written in the 19th century, they follow through the theme of men being better than women. Also another theme which was common in these stories were brutal murders and obvious villains. Most of the writers who wrote in those days wrote for different reasons compared to reasons why writers wrote in the 20th century. Writers in the 20th century wrote to entertain rather than to instruct people. Famous writers such as Charles Dickens wrote for moral obligation. He wrote to try and shame and instruct rich people into helping the poor. I am going to look at three different Victorian short stories and see how women are portrayed. Are they the villain, the victim or the hero? The first story I have read is "Captain Murderer". "Captain Murderer" was written by Charles Dickens however, he did not invent this story he simply retold it. ...read more.

Middle

Nancy shows an implication to the audience that Fagin looked after her when she says to Mr Brownlow: "Fagin! I will not do it! I will never do it! Devil that he is, and worse than devil as he has been to me, as my teacher in all Delivery, I will never do it." and "...and I'll not turn upon them, who might-any of them-have turned upon me, but I ill never do it." The women in "Captain Murderer" and "Sikes and Nancy" are on two parallel paths in which they have all been imprudent and foolish in their choices of lovers. Bill Sikes has the characteristics of a horrible man who is violent and somewhat self-centred, consequently he does not make a good partner for Nancy. Our sympathies lie with Nancy when she reveals: "I have been a liar, and among liars from a little child, but I will take your words." Here she is a victim but also a villain, however, we assume it is not her fault. The tendencies of the female hero in "Sikes and Nancy" replicate those of the female hero in "Captain Murderer"; by doing something wrong they become a hero. Nancy had become a hero by not revealing the truth about her villain companions: "But nothing would have induced her to compromise one of her own companions." In both stories the women are victims of mistrust and are too loyal to the ones they think they love. Fagin has his suspicions about Nancy because she has been seen talking to a member of the upper class. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bessie is overwhelmed with regret and knows full well what she has done: "The words were hardly out of my mouth before I repented of having spoken them." Bessie is awoken by a sound and immediately the audience have concluded that it is the two men: "The sound that woke me was a loud bang at the front door...in a minute or less there came a second bang, buder than the first." Bessie has taken the role of a victim here because it is her house that is being broken into and she is the vulnerable one in this situation. There are similarities in this story compared to "Sikes and Nancy" and "Captain Murderer" in that all the villains intentions are apparent from the start. The name of the central villain in "The Black Cottage" is Shifty Dick and this attracts negative attention just like the name of the villain Captain Murderer in "Captain Murderer". Bessie tries to conquer her status as victim by showing the villains she is not afraid of them: "..you cowardly villains! I screamed at them through the door. You think you can frighten me.... You ragamuffin thieves." Despite Bessie showing she is not going to be overruled the danger increases for her. Shifty Dick goes to an extreme measure when he takes out a knife and starts to hack trough the thatch roof. Bessie finally surrenders her status as hero after all her brave and bold acts and flees the house into the darkness of the countryside: "...I saw the heavy, hairy hand of Shift Dick, armed with the knife, come through after the fallen fragments..... I lost courage at last.....I must trust to the night and the thick darkness, and save my life." Anne-Marie Crawford 10o ...read more.

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