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|Title:||Rethinking Gender Construction in Victorian England in George Eliot’s "Romola" and Lord Leighton’s Illustrations||Authors:||Aouadi, Leila||Keywords:||Victorian England; George Eliot; Romola; Lord Leighton||Issue Date:||2017||Publisher:||EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste||Source:||Leila Aouadi, "Rethinking Gender Construction in Victorian England in George Eliot’s "Romola" and Lord Leighton’s Illustrations", in "Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere 22 (2017)", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, pp. 31-59||Part of:||Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere 22 (2017)||Abstract:||
This article studies gender construction in George Eliot’s "Romola" and Lord Leighton’s illustrations in the novel. In offering new insights into the collaboration between a writer and a painter from the Victorian era, this work draws substantially on a crucible of feminist scholarly responses to demonstrate how Eliot encrypted her resistance to and rejection of Victorian misogynist discourse on gender and women’s inferiority. Both works bond together despite the discrepancies, which prefigure significantly in the novel’s discourse on gender, and when considered in conjunction with the illustrations, "Romola" lays itself open to new readings and in so doing, challenges no more now than before pigeonholing and reductionism. Notwithstanding the asymmetrical nature of the relationship between the text and the illustrations, this essay contends that Lord Leighton’s radical construction of gender is triggered by Eliot’s narrative agenda and the subversive use of the myth of the Madonna. The novel’s narrative path as a bildungsroman imposes on the illustrations a rather radical “feminist” agenda, despite the aesthete’s visible antifeminism in his paintings, and the resulting subversive nature of the titular heroine in Leighton’s and Eliot’s work takes the debate on the Woman Question further afield. This article will argue that "Romola" foregrounds the protagonist’s grandeur and her ethical supremacy as opposed to all male characters. Her crossing over the dividing lines of the domestic into the public sphere is a serious endeavor on the part of Leighton and Eliot towards a more radical and forward thinking.
|Appears in Collections:||2017 / 22 Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere|
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