‘Women’ and ‘Sexuality’ in the 18th and 19th century english novels: a reading of Eliza Haywood and Thomas Hardy
AuthorAnnanya, Nusrat Karim
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The Dissertation seeks to explore and comprehend the 18th century and Victorian perception towards female sexuality, desire and sexual crime by reading the works of Eliza Haywood, and Thomas Hardy. In doing so, this thesis seeks to incorporate the social environment of interpretation. It explores and links societal factors with literary productions. It looks at the aforementioned issues in these novels as a way to understand the society’s notions and judgments concerning these. Victim’s treatment, discernment of the society and her subsequent abandonment, women’s desire and sexual freedom are studied critically. In Eliza Haywood’s novella Fantomina the protagonist is a young woman who yearns for freedom and breaks the sexual codes of the time. Through the use of disguise and masquerade the protagonist Fantomina explores her sexuality which was a sin in the eye of the conservative society of Haywood. On the other hand, Thomas Hardy’s Protagonist Tess from the novel Tess of d’Urbervilles is persecuted throughout her life and is killed by the male chauvinistic Victorian society. Thus, both Haywood and Hardy have shown the sexual double standards of the English society through their works. They have also shown the manifold restrictions and repressions imposed on women and how these hypocrisies result on women’s sufferings and withdrawals.