Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Literature
A look at the representation of prostitution in Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist", Emile Zola's "Nana" and Elizabeth Gaskell's "Mary Barton".
# 65272 | 7,536 words | 24 sources | MLA | 2005 |
Published on May 02, 2006 in English (Analysis) , Literature (Comparative Literature) , Women Studies (General)
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This paper investigates the treatment of prostitution in nineteenth-century literature, in particular Elizabeth Gaskell's "Mary Barton", Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" and Emile Zola's "Nana". By closely examining literature from England and France, authored by male and female writers, it attempts to display how cultural differences and gender implications may have an influence on the chosen novelists' treatment of the subject. Areas of interest include: the historical context of nineteenth-century prostitution; the authors' portrayal of prostitution; the response of other characters toward the prostitute and the importance of death as the final outcome.
From the Paper:"The subject of prostitution has had a long-standing fascination for novelists, artists, and historians alike. The idea of a woman using her body as a paid profession has forever caused a great deal of controversy, especially during the nineteenth century, when women were not supposed to display or act upon their sexual desires. It has often been said that during the nineteenth century, prostitution was becoming an increasing problem, although many facts and figures differ from one another considerably, so it would be unhelpful to quote them here. It is useful enough to consider that 'Victorians in the 1840s and 1850s thought that both prostitution and venereal disease were increasing'. "
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