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Victorian Women Writers and the ClassicsThe Feminine of Homer$
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Isobel Hurst

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199283514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283514.001.0001

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Greek Heroines and the Wrongs of Women

Greek Heroines and the Wrongs of Women

(p.164) 5 Greek Heroines and the Wrongs of Women
Victorian Women Writers and the Classics

Isobel Hurst (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the use of Greek heroines such as Medea, Antigone, and Alcestis, and historical figures like Xantippe and Aspasia, to explore feminist issues in the work of George Eliot, Eliza Lynn Linton, Augusta Webster, and Amy Levy. In translations, dramatic monologues and novels, ancient heroines could speak eloquently of the wrongs of women in a way which resonated with Victorian readers. Characters from the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides, especially Medea, the vengeful victim whose motivation for killing her rival and her own children could be cast in terms of a rebellion against patriarchal society, and Alcestis, the wife who gives up her life for an ungrateful husband, allowed these writers to explore women's anger and violence in a safely distanced context.

Keywords:   George Eliot, Augusta Webster, Eliza Lynn Linton, Sophocles, Euripides, Aspasia, Xantippe, Medea, Alcestis

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