Femininity In Amelia Opie's Adeline Mowbray

Improved Essays
Compliance and docility in women are the appropriate terms to describe eighteenth century England, a male dominated society. It is interesting to observe how feminine self-assertion, as well as women’s rejection of marriage, have been immediately attributed to sexual promiscuity, and that female’s refusal to conform to the laws established by society corrupt their reputation as pure women. Many studies, books and articles written on the subject have shown how women are rendered speechless by society and “forced into a culturally produced rather than natural subject position” (Ty, 1993: 47). As a result, women’s heterosexual relationships outside of marriage are only associated with licentious actions, separated from all virtuous moral …show more content…
Thereupon my essay will prove how Amelia Opie’s 1805 novel Adeline Mowbray touches upon the position of women in early 19th century England’s conservative (patriarchal) society by portraying the lamentable consequences of feminine self-assertion, sexual transgression and female sexuality. The author does that by positioning the prodigal daughter Adeline as a licentious and “fallen woman” that violates the laws of chastity and rejects the social respectability that the institution of marriage confers. In light of all these arguments the purpose of my dissertation will be to examine how Adeline’s unconventional way of life defies the moral codes of her time, but at the same time does not convert her into a libertine. The question is simple: Why should Adeline be seen as a vicious “fallen woman”, with an immoral conduct? Aida Diaz gives quite a clear answer to my question in her essay “Adeline Mowbray, or, The Bitter Acceptance of Woman’s fate” by stating that “society is not yet prepared for such advanced theories on marriage” (2010: 198). Thus, Adeline’s need for philosophical independence goes against the laws of etiquette, making her fantasy of women’s rights a bitter non-existent

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