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Subject Women in the Attic: Reflection
Posted by Julie_Cheng
Posted on Mon Jun 12 01:24:36 2000
From IP dws632.tpe.timenet.net  

I think this excerpt is the one of the two selections that I enjoy among all materials we have read during this semester. Another excerpt I appreciate is Freud・s The Uncanny. I・m attracted by the unique concept Freud brings out.
The Madwoman in the Attic is like an introduction to 18th and 19th century social context. I learn much about how Victorian women were like, and the way women were treated that time. Although men didn・t forbid them to write, men adopted wick scheme to undermine their intention to compose. Female followed the ideology male offered. Women were either angels or monsters, or both. As a modern reader, I find men that time were really mean and harsh to women. How stupid men were (maybe they still are)! This excerpt influences how I look at those famous male writers, such as Swift, Pope and Johnson. They were misogynists. I was not aware how women were belittled in the literature until now.
I regret I didn・t have chance to read this excerpt at the beginning of this semester in ordering to know more about 19th century women. But it・s also good to read it at the end of the semester. After reading some famous 19th British novels during this semester, and when I come to this, so many proofs that support Gilbert and Guber・s idea flash in my head. It is so true that women were usually categorized by dichotomy. They are either angels or monsters. For instance, Bertha is the monster who at first seduces the poor man Rochester with her beauty, and later become a daemon-like woman, a beast who preys on her race, a embodiment of cannibalism. Out of fear, men control women by hypnotizing them to become angels instead of monsters. Thus women had to be submissive, :selfless; and silent. They had to mind their behaviors and appearance in order to entertain men. It is so ridiculous that women had to be aware of the pose they slept, or their men would be discontented.
Women could not be great unless they make their husbands great. But even so, they could not be greater than men. In many case women are related to artwork. As to this point the Gilber and Gubar suggest, it reminds me something I have read. Claude Monet painted a picture of his dead wife lying in a coffin or bed. In a letter to a friend he said something like: :God, when I looked at that dead woman, the only thing I was thinking was how light and shadow changed in her face.; As an impressionist painter, he cared more of the light than of the death of his wife.
The passage about how women were manipulated as nurses to tend the deathbed, and become dead themselves, like pure and deadish :porcelain; (601). A woman welcomes new lives come from her, and bid farewell to the dying. How powerful! She stands by the gate to this world and to heaven / hell. No wonder men minimize women・s self-identity lest they become even more powerful. Women were made believe that they were subject to men and petty as nothing more than toys, objects to entertain.
The qualities I learn from this excerpt are especially clearly shown in Eliot・s Middlemarch. This novel is like a catalog or collection of Victorian women or more than that. Most are submissive, angle-like (Rosamond Vincy) or selfless and Madonna-like (Dorothea Brooke). In Middlemarch, most ladies are to be worshipped and call for love. In Jane Eyre, Bertha is to fear and an object to loathe. The protagonists in these two novels, Dorothea and Jane are always show their greatest hope to be :useful,; as if they are born to be used or manipulated.
It・s a great pleasure to read and to prove at the same time. How fun to grasp examples from the course we・re taking now. I think Eliot would be said to be a bluestocker, for she quotes Latin or French and much literature here and there in her novel. She・s such a highly educated woman that her inscription of knowledge in Middlemarch could be seen as pedantic.


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