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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 3: The Nineteenth-Century Novel 1820-1880$
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John Kucich and Jenny Bourne Taylor

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199560615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199560615.001.0001

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Gender Identities and Relationships

Gender Identities and Relationships

Chapter:
(p.509) 31 Gender Identities and Relationships
Source:
The Oxford History of the Novel in English
Author(s):

Kaplan Cora

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199560615.003.0031

This chapter examines representations of gender in the nineteenth century British novel. Nineteenth-century novels provided moralized narratives of gendered subjects and their relationships, and were a privileged space where ‘restlessness’ and ‘discontent’ were voiced. Novels also became the favoured site where impossible fantasies of identification and desire were regularly enacted. Realism and fantasy were always intertwined and interdependent in the representation of gender. However, as fiction began to favour greater psychological and social realism, the more central to the novel the register of gender in fantasy became. Novels such as Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Dickens's Dombey and Son (1846–8), and Thackeray's Vanity Fair raised more questions than they could answer about what was ‘customary’ and what was right in the making of gendered subjects.

Keywords:   gender identity, British novels, Victorian fiction, realism, fantasy, gendered subjects, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray

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