Nancy Drew As New Girl Wonder Analysis

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Nancy Drew, commonly known as the original “Girl Sleuth”, is the lead detective of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. A young girl of 16 or 18 years of age (her age varies between stories), she was created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, famously known for his The Hardy Boys detective series, and written by a variety of ghostwriters under the penname Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew 2015). Nancy Drew is a female, amateur detective who stumbles upon mysteries in the fictional town of River Heights where she lives with her father, noted lawyer Carson Drew. Though she occasionally receives help from her father and friends, she does most of her detective work independently . Nancy Drew stories continue to be published today and have been admired for nearly …show more content…
Ideas of who and what a woman should be were constantly shifting, and women were fighting for political and social changes to reinforce those ideas in the public sphere. The first Nancy Drew story was published just 10 years after American women won the right to vote (Siegel 1997, 160) – a right that was initially denied in part due to a misconception that women were incapable of logical, reasonable thought (Saxon Mills 2007). As such, women were still discovering their new, reconstructed sociopolitical status. As Deborah Siegel explains in her essay “Nancy Drew As New Girl Wonder”, “[Nancy Drew] arrived on the heels of the era that witnessed the political phenomenon known as the New Woman – the social, economic, and political advancement of single, highly educated, economically autonomous bourgeois women.” (Siegel 1997, 160) Various, competing scripts of femininity characterized the 1930s, especially in wake of the financial burdens imposed by the Great Depression. Pressure remained for women to be perfect wives and mothers, yet many simultaneously felt both pressure and desire to enter the workforce. Part of being perfect wives and mothers entailed dressing nicely on a daily basis, tending to the home, and obeying the requests of their fathers and/or husbands. As a young, independent girl from a well-off family, Nancy Drew appeared to these women as an example of possibility: “Nancy’s license to engage in extra-domestic activity and participate in the conventionally male universe of mystery and adventure serves to liberate her from restrictive codes of female conduct.” (Siegel 1997, 174) She rejected many social conventions of the past and embodied the ambiguity of shifting expectations for feminine behaviour in the 1930s. As I will argue, this is particularly true in terms of Nancy Drew’s interrogation style and interactions with male characters; however, this is not as evident in descriptions of her physical

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