By Anna Krugovoy Silver
Anna Silver examines the methods nineteenth-century British writers used actual states of the feminine body--hunger, urge for food, fats and slenderness--in the production of woman characters. She argues that anorexia nervosa, first clinically determined in 1873, serves as a paradigm for the cultural perfect of middle-class womanhood in Victorian Britain. Silver makes use of the works of a variety of writers (including Charlotte Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll) to illustrate that mainstream types of middle-class Victorian womanhood percentage vital features with the ideals or behaviors of the anorexic girl.
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Additional info for Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture)
Snort and be joyful, and remain at domestic” (). Shirley, like Helstone, affiliates meals with family contentment and complacency. paradoxically, after all, staying at domestic and masquerading because the guffawing, pleased hostess merely give a contribution to Caroline’s affliction. Caroline truly resents her conﬁnement in her uncle’s domestic whilst she wishes a occupation to provide her existence a few objective and to respond to her determined query: “What was once I created for, i ponder? the place is my position on this planet? ” (). finally, notwithstanding, a casting of Caroline’s starvation as wakeful uprising exaggerates her subversiveness by means of conﬂating disorder with social protest. relatively, Caroline may be learn as a ﬁgure of anorexia simply because her hunger enacts an identical female self-renunciation that retains her Hunger and repression in Shirley and Villette imprisoned within the ﬁrst position. An interpretation of her starvation can hence keep in mind Caroline’s hope for regulate over her existence, a cardinal point of anorexia nervosa, with no turning her into a symbol of overt uprising; self-denial, now not protest, is on the center of her fasting. notwithstanding she feels frustration and anger over the inability of possibilities in her existence, Caroline doesn't got down to starve herself with a purpose to make a political element, to accomplish a speciﬁc aim, or maybe to attract consciousness to her dissatisfaction. while Helstone refuses to permit her to turn into a governess, Caroline retains ravenous in silence, “keeping her light face and wasted ﬁgure as a lot out of sight as she may perhaps” (). not like the goal-oriented or political starvation strike, with which Bront¨e used to be in my opinion well-known, Caroline’s fasting is outwardly out of her keep watch over. She “missed all experience of urge for food. Palatable nutrients used to be as ashes and sawdust to her” (). whilst Mrs. Pryor attempts to feed her in the course of her breakdown, Caroline insists that: “I can't devour” (). At her restoration, the narrator writes that: “All descriptions of nutrients have been not both distasteful; she can be brought on, occasionally, to point a choice” (). Her starvation is extra ailment than public protest, and Caroline doesn't consciously “choose” foodstuff refusal. Susan Bordo writes that “[a]norexia might . . . be visible as an severe improvement of the ability for self-denial and the repression of desire,” whereas Marilyn Lawrence, who has hooked up anorexia nervosa to asceticism, argues that self-denial is very very important for ladies simply because they've got typically been seen as “more inherently vulnerable to badness and ethical weak point. ” for the reason that ladies have, in Judeo-Christian tradition, been thought of extra actual, extra “embodied” than males have, it's been really vital for them to self-discipline their our bodies. Fasting has traditionally been one capability for doing so, as i'll speak about within the context of Christina Rossetti’s paintings. extra speciﬁcally, self-denial, and especially keep watch over of one’s sexuality, was once heavily tied to female advantage within the 19th century. Anorexia nervosa therefore represents, as pathology, the self-denial enshrined in the Victorian ideology of femininity.