SPACES OF INTIMACY AND SUBVERSION: READING THE REPRESENTATION OF SPACE IN ELIZABETH GASKELL’S CRANFORD

By Deblina Hazra

Abstract
Michel Foucault saw the nineteenth century as one obsessed with history and commented that the present epoch would be an epoch of space. This paper examines the way space is represented in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Cranford (1853) and the relation shared by its female characters with the physical spaces surrounding them. This paper explores two kinds of spaces, domestic and public, and the different functions they perform in the lives of the Cranfordian Amazons. The domestic space not only acts as a female confidante but also reflects the psyche of the women inhabiting it. While the domestic spaces are sites of intimacy, the public spaces are sites of subversions. The women of Cranford transform the public space of the village into a single large domestic space. In accommodating the public within the private they subvert two notions attached to them: first, old spinsters should remain indoors so as not to display their aged, celibate bodies in the public; and second, certain professions are exclusively male and women are debarred from practicing them. By treating the outdoor space of the town as an extension of their domestic indoors, the women freely make public appearances. Moreover, by transforming the dining parlour into a tea-shop, Miss Matty carries out the profession of business which is solely reserved for men. By studying these issues, this paper would, therefore, analyse the various symbolisms attached with space in Gaskell’s novel.


 

Family, the first and the most intimate community, is a microcosmic representation of the social community at large. In Victorian England, the pyramidal structure of social class was also reflected in the hierarchical structure of families where the members of a family were under the supervision of one patriarchal head. According to the famous Ruskinian ideology of separate spheres[1] prevailing at the time, man possessed the right to delve into issues beyond the boundary of the home, whereas with women rested the responsibility of staying indoors and securing ‘its order, comfort, and loveliness’.[2] Gaskell portrays a radically different community in Cranford (1853), where the titular town is an area solely in possession of women. Described often as a female-utopia,[3] Cranford has a glaring lack of men. The few men who are present, like Captain Brown, Mr. Holbrook and Signor Brunoni, disappear after making brief appearances, and Peter Jenkyns appears in person only towards the close of the novel. The household space of Cranford, therefore, is not in the shape of a pyramid. It is rather a horizontal space inhabited singularly by females.

 

The mid-nineteenth century saw a sharp rise in the number of women who were either supposed to remain or chose to be unmarried. Anna Jameson records that the 1851 census revealed an ‘excess’[4] of half a million females over male. This demographic change in the population drew society’s attention to the fate of the ‘Superabundant Woman’[5] and paved the way for the emergence of a new element in literary discourse, which George Lewes calls a ‘woman’s view of life, woman’s experience’.[6] The novel Cranford fits this description where a female author captures the experiences of her female characters and puts forth their views of life. Gaskell’s Cranford is a town which is characterized by this phenomenon of excess women. Cranford is ‘in possession of the Amazons,’[7] where the women are able to support their survival without the aid of men. It is, therefore, a female utopia where the women, who are primarily spinsters or widows, share a kind of female solidarity and communality as addressed by Lewes. Critics like Patricia Wolfe and Nina Auerbach, from a spatial standpoint, have celebrated the closed community of Cranford as an alternative, feminine space that challenges the dominant ideology of the male sphere.[8] The Amazons of the town lead their lives in a way which is different from the structure of the conventional Victorian families. They live together, ‘creating “families” of their own devising’[9] and cherish the absence of men from their lives. Lansbury reads such a devising of a unique familial structure as Gaskell’s way of portraying ‘the traditional family as a source of frustration and oppression’.[10] In eliminating dominant and active men from its boundary, Cranford thus challenges the Victorian conviction of the patriarchal family as sacred and a broken home as a pit of misery and misfortune. In this all female town, Gaskell uses the space of the domestic interior and that of the public arena as platforms to represent the two different functions of intimacy and subversion respectively. The next section of this paper explores the intimacy shared by the female inhabitants with the house, studying it under the theory of the house being an extension of the female body, and examining how that intimacy is stretched to the public domain to implicitly subvert the Victorian codes of conduct prescribed to the spinsters and widows, and to women in general.

 

Bachelard in his phenomenological study of the house, The Poetics of Space (1958), has described the house as a private maternal womb-like space. Equating the interior spaces of the house with the womb of a mother, Bachelard establishes a similarity between the intimacy shared by a child with its mother and the intimacy shared by the inhabitants of a house with its physical space. Like the mother, the interior space of the house, therefore, becomes the most important confidante of its inmates and there develops an intimacy between the living dwellers and the non-living house. Bachelard has also read the house as a space that frames our intimate memories, acting as a guarantor for a sense of selfhood. He credits the house with the preservation of the identity of a human being by being a repository of memory. Within every square inch of the house is buried some very personal and intimate stories of its inhabitants. The Jenkyns household in Cranford is no exception. The old letters, safely tied and put in a corner of the house, are documents of family history. They contain the passionate communications between a newly-wed couple staying far apart from each other, delicate and poignant exchanges between a mother and her lost son, and intellectual yet tender interactions between a father and his eldest daughter. Miss Matty decides to burn those letters lest they fall into the hands of some strangers. Prior to the burning she shares them with the narrator, Mary Smith, where each of them takes up one letter, reads it and describes its contents to the other. This act of reading the old family letters conjure up, in flashback images, the history of the Jenkyns household. Miss Matty not only makes Mary Smith her confidante but also metonymic of the enclosed space of the living room within which the past of her family is re-narrated. The house to Miss Matty, therefore, is a comfortable intimate womb-like interior in the Bachelardian sense, which becomes one of her most trusted spaces. Her decision to burn those letters in the fireplace of the living room is a symbolic attempt to bury the personal episodes of her family within the intimate space of her house. With that burning, the personal letters exchanged between a husband and a wife, a father and his daughter, a mother and her son, get safely concealed within the sanctuary of the house. In other words, after the cessation of the lives of Miss Matty and Mary Smith, the story of the Jenkyns family will be retained only within the four walls of the Jenkyns house. The physical space of the domestic interiors is thus portrayed as the most faithful and intimate confidante who will not breach the trust by giving away to the world the private records of the Jenkyns family.

 

Not only does Miss Matty entomb the personal memory of her family in the house, but also conceals the emotions of her own heart in the dark corners of the house. With the excuse of headaches, she takes refuge in her bedroom to hide her anxiety and pain at the withering health and approaching death of Mr. Holbrook, the man for whom she has possessed a secret and subdued love since her youth. The bedroom becomes analogous to her mind in aiding her to suppress her emotions and absorbing them within its four walls. Equating space with human psyche is a recurrent trope in Gaskell which finds complete maturation in her final unfinished novel Wives and Daughters (1866). She often uses spatial metaphors to express the innermost thoughts and feelings of her characters. In Cranford, too, she uses a spatial metaphor for describing the guilt faced by the narrator, Mary Smith, when she accidentally discovers Miss Matty’s erstwhile relation with Mr. Holbrook and her anguish at his steadily deteriorating health. When Mary Smith chances upon the actual reason behind her lost appetite, she feels guilty of having spied into tender heart of Miss Matty, as if she has spied into the private bedchambers of a lady. Thus, Gaskell emphasises the analogy of the space of the bedroom with Miss Matty’s heart on two occasions. Mary Smith uses it as a metaphoric expression and Miss Matty herself treats the bedroom as her own heart-chamber where, she feels, her feelings are safely hidden. With the exception of Mary Smith, the first person narrator who gains omniscience over Miss Matilda Jenkyns, every little detail of the latter’s personal life – her past, her thoughts, her emotions are only known to the interior space of her dwelling. The house, therefore, becomes an intimate friend to whom can be confided the deepest desires and untold pains of the heart without any fear of public revelation. Scholars have identified the dominant role played by female camaraderie in Elizabeth Gaskell’s writings.[11] Her fictions celebrate sisterhood across age, class and conducts: female bonding between a fallen woman and a pure woman as seen between Ruth and Jemima in Ruth (1853) and between Lizzie Leigh and Susan Palmer in Lizzie Leigh (1855); camaraderie across age as portrayed between Mary Smith and Matilda Jenkyns; sisterhood across social class as observed between Margaret Hale and Bessy Higgins in North and South (1855). In her personal life, too, Gaskell identified herself as one of a community of women writers as revealed through her letters. Also her relation with her sister authors was less problematic as compared to her contemporaries. Such a backdrop of the importance of female friendship in both her personal life and her fictions help us to make a second reading of the relation between Miss Matty and the Jenkyns house. The intimacy shared by her with her house and the extent to which the house becomes privy to the Jenkyns history, makes the physical space of the house synonymous to a female companion. Marjorie Garber in her essay ‘The Body as a House’ (2000) argues that women in being relegated to the confinements of the house, in effect, become the house itself.[12] This was best portrayed by Gaskell in the character of Mrs. Hamley in Wives and Daughters where her residence, the Hamley Hall, is depicted as an extension of the body of its mistress, so that after her death the hall gradually crumbles down into a ramshackle state. Conversely, in Cranford the house transforms into a female companion for its living owner. The house performs for Miss Matty the role that was played by Margaret Hale to Bessy Higgins. It becomes both a listener and a comforter to the aged lady, who finds the best solace within the enclosed walls of her house.

 

This intimate bond that Miss Matty shares with the physical space of her house makes it an outward manifestation of her own inner psyche. Her preference to economize on candles leaves many a dark areas in the house, which resemble the dark corners of her own mind. ‘The representation of the house as a human body is a very old idea’[13] and Gaskell draws on this idea to make the physical space of the house symbolise the minds of her characters. She uses the spatial dynamics of the house to portray the latent emotions of her characters. Miss Matty’s preference for dimly lit rooms where the lack of enough light turns many areas dark and invisible, represents her own heart which hides many unexpressed and unfulfilled passions and desires. These dark corners of her psyche are areas which she would not prefer to be explored either by the narrator or the readers. She chooses less light in the rooms symbolically, as if a semi-dark room where objects are partially and unclearly visible would help her to keep her desires, grief and pains embedded deep within the core of her heart and obscure them from the public eye. The enclosed space of the Jenkyns house, thus, not only hides the history of the family but also becomes a representation of Miss Matty’s heart concealing many emotions barely visible to others. Having had a failed relationship with Mr. Holbrook, she develops a ‘mysterious dread of men and matrimony’ which prompts her to deny her servants ‘followers’.[14] Martha thinks it is ‘hard of missus’ not to let her ‘keep company’ with young men, especially because the ‘good dark corners’ of the ‘capable kitchen’ can hide anyone.[15] What Martha does not realize is that the house can hide only the Jenkyns history, their emotions and their secrets. In this respect, the Jenkyns house is analogous to the life and body of Miss Matilda Jenkyns. Hence, when no man is allowed to enter into Miss Matty’s life owing to her fear of men and matrimony, her kitchen too, needs to be fortified against the entry of men. However, in spite of forbidding the entry of men, ‘a vision of a man seemed to haunt the kitchen’.[16] Mary Smith sees on two different occasions that ‘a man’s coat-tails whisks into the scullery’[17] and something that looks like ‘a young man squeezed up between the clock and the back of the open kitchen-door’. Anna Lepine in her essay ‘Strange and Rare Visitants: Spinsters and Domestic Space in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford’ argues that the

[…] ghostly working-class men haunting Miss Matty’s kitchen point to her own failed relationship with Mr. Holbrook who was not considered enough of a gentleman by the Rector and Miss Jenkyns because he insisted on being called yeoman instead of Esquire.[18]

 

These working class intruders who encroach upon the space strictly prohibited to them, constantly remind the readers about ‘an alternative life (that) she might have led.’[19] Gaskell uses the domestic space of the kitchen and the suggestions of male intrusion into that space to point out the lacuna that had germinated in Miss Matty’s life owing to her love for Mr. Holbrook, which failed to mature into marriage. The house, therefore, is treated by her as a site of multiple symbolisms for inter-relating the tangible space of the house and the private intimacy of Miss Matilda Jenkyns’s life. The house performs the dual role of being a female companion to its owner as well as spatially reflecting the mistress’s psyche and, through the spatial denotation of the kitchen, it keeps pointing to a very personal episode in the life of the protagonist.

 

The gendered social space of the nineteenth century was built upon the Ruskinian theory of separate spheres for men and women. Charlotte Yonge’s conduct book Womankind published in 1877 prescribed ‘invisibility’ to the spinsters. In other words, they were prohibited from making their aged, celibate bodies appear in the public. Gaskell’s Cranford negated Yonge’s prescription almost twenty-five years before the latter made its appearance. Published in 1853, Cranford’s Amazons ‘created rules of selective visibility whereby the entire village may be treated as domestic space.’[20] Janet Wolff’s seminal essay ‘The Invisible Flaneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity’ paved the way for the ongoing interest in the female counterpart of the nineteenth century flaneur. About the nineteenth century woman Wolff says, ‘She could not adopt the non-existent role of a flaneuse. Women could not stroll alone in the city.’[21] Cranford is definitely not a city but it is also not a rural pastoral landscape like Hollingford in Wives and Daughters. The author herself describes Cranford as a town, that is, a space that has urban features. Its women roam about the town carrying their domesticity around themselves like a shell, threatening the strict division of the Ruskinian separate spheres by ignoring their boundaries and wandering in the interspaces. They prefer indoor head-coverings even while moving in the public, which symbolizes their attempt at redefining the private sphere. Except for Miss Deborah Jenkyns who used to wear a little bonnet and dies in the second chapter of the novel, none of the ladies in Cranford seems to wear outdoor hats or bonnets. Instead they retain their indoor caps which they cover with calashes whenever they venture out. This act of wearing their indoor head gears outside in a society where there were strict and different codes of dressing for indoors and outdoors, can be read as their attempt to extend the personal and comfortable boundaries of their intimate interiors to include the public within the private space. Through such an inclusion the Amazons deftly expand their area of movement to the outdoors and challenge the prescription of indoor confinements. Ironically, in carrying their domesticity around themselves into the public space, they abide by Ruskin’s literal expression that ‘wherever a true wife comes, this home is always around her’,[22] whereas in reality they make prominent public appearances by defying the diction of confinement imposed upon them. On another instance, Mary Smith spots Miss Pole in the Fashion Showroom at Mr. Johnson’s store in her morning costume, that is, without teeth and wearing a veil to conceal that deficiency. By choosing a time of the day when, according to the Cranfordian codes of behaviour, the external world will not be looking, Miss Pole goes about the town as she would go about in her own house. By equating the public space of the shop with the domestic space of home, she not only ‘comes out’ as opposed to ‘going in’ but also blurs the border between the private and the public, merging them into one singular space. Anna Despotopolou in her essay ‘The Abuse of Visibility: Domestic Publicity in Late Victorian Fiction’ argues that the domestic space of the late Victorian drawing-room was a locus of visibility and ultimately publicity for the women.[23] Gaskell’s Cranford is a polar opposite of this argument where the public space is converted into an intimate domestic space by the ladies of the town. Cranford, the town, is not a domestic space but the ladies treat it as one. They extend the kind of intimacy they share with the interiors of their own house and expand that beyond the boundaries of their homes. They transform the public space of the village into a single, large domestic space and treat the entire female community as one family where the old ladies move ‘from one house to the next as though entering different room of their own homes.’[24] By making prominent appearances in what they consider a privatized public space, the Cranford ladies overthrow the prevalent notion that the spinsters should always ‘go in’, as it is inappropriate for the aged celibate bodies to be displayed in public. They use the outdoor space as a site for subverting the Victorian codes of conduct prescribed for the aged spinsters and the widows. Because they lacked the vital connection to a patriarchal family, ruled by a male member, the widows and the spinsters are seen as leading a peripheral existence outside the family structure. However, instead of being relegated to a marginalised status within the interiors, as was advised to them, they modify the spatial boundaries whereby their coming out into the public can be justified.

 

The episode of Miss Matty’s tea business further elucidates how the Amazons chose to make obscure the firm boundaries of the public and the private and, through that obscuring, challenged the established Victorian discriminations between male and female professions. The breaking up of the Town and County Bank leaves Miss Matty with very little income, thirteen pounds a year to be precise, as she loses a huge amount of about one hundred and forty-nine pounds per year. In order to provide for her own sustenance she steps into the exclusively male realm of business. In the nineteenth century, business was predominantly a male occupation. With the expansion of colonies, male traders were seen both trotting the globe to market the products manufactured in England as well as trading items found in the colonies in their homeland. The women, on the other hand, were seen as mere consumers of exotic goods like the Indian shawls, pearls or ivory. Miss Matty’s venturing into the business of tea is an implicit challenge to this accepted difference. However, what is significant is that though Gaskell makes her protagonist subvert the Victorian ideology of separate spheres by engaging her in a male occupation, she positions her within the domestic interiors for carrying out the business. In other words, a public act is carried out from within a private space. Miss Matty conducts her business from within the comfortable intimate space of her own house, transforming the small dining parlour into a shop. The public commercial arena is thus absorbed within the private domestic space. By engaging in the male profession of trading without stepping over the threshold of the house, the space traditionally allotted to the women, Miss Matty indirectly subverts the patriarchal code of separate spheres. She conforms to the notion of the house being the true place of women but from within that house involves in a vocation strictly reserved for men. The particular portion of the Jenkyns house that Miss Matty uses for the purpose of commerce is the dining parlour. The space of the dining parlour, according to the nineteenth century customs, was a space of domestic life. Thad Logan in his book The Victorian Parlour: A Cultural Study (2001) describes the Victorian parlour as such:

The Victorian parlour…was, like Shakespeare’s Globe, a little world. Within this space, the men, women, and children of the British middle classes acted out the dramas of domestic life.[25]

 

This space where the roles of domestic lives are played is transformed by Gaskell into an area where her protagonist performs a professional role. Logan further observes that ‘For most Victorian families, the parlour was the centre of the home and the most important room in the house.’[26] The parlour, therefore, was a space of intimate bonding where the family members gathered together to spend family time and it was the central part of the private space of home. By turning this area into one of commerce, both the Cranfordian ladies and their creator Elizabeth Gaskell, show how an intimate interior space can be used for the public act of business. In making Miss Matty carry out an act which is exclusively male from within the house, Gaskell transforms the even private space of the house into a site of subversion. The transformation of the dining-parlour of the Jenkyns house becomes more significant when judged against Logan’s take on the relationship between Victorian women and the parlour:

For women, the home was the workplace, and the parlour was the locus of the display of feminine accomplishments, including the social ‘work’ of paying and receiving calls and nurturing the family.[27]

 

The work that Logan talks about, clearly, is not any professional work but the domestic work of maintaining social relations. Miss Matty uses the parlour literally as her workplace. The only difference is that her work is the professional work of trading. By expanding the intimate parlour to incorporate within its fold the vocation of trading, Gaskell’s Amazon blurs the demarcation between the exterior and the interior; and, in doing so implicitly overthrows the patriarchal notion that business is strictly a male realm. This in turn challenges the distinction that was made between the public occupations of men and the more domestic duties of women. The space of the parlour is used as a platform for such a subversion of the dominant convictions.

 

The women of Cranford thus redraw the relation that exists between humans and the spaces they inhabit. Their intimacy with the private sphere of the home is developed to such an extent that the domestic interiors become symbolic representations of their own psyche. This intimacy is then extended to the public space whereby the entire town of Cranford is transformed into a single large domestic space. By re-defining the boundaries that demarcate the public and private, the spinsters validate and justify their moving out in the public – an act which was prohibited to them as per the conduct books of the nineteenth century. By domesticating the outdoors, the Cranfordian Amazons apparently conform to the norm of staying indoors, while in reality they make striking public appearances. Finally, through the character of Miss Matty and her tea-trade from within her house, Gaskell shows that while the public can be privatized, the private can also be modified to accommodate the public. In doing so, not only does she provide for a new definition of the intimate domestic space but also overturns the Victorian convictions of separate professions for men and women. While Miss Matty does not overstep the threshold of the house, she negotiates with the intimate space in a way to overthrow the biased gender assumptions of the nineteenth century, making the private space a stage for subversion. Different kinds of spaces in Cranford, therefore, are infused with a dynamic quality so as to be both metonymic and metaphoric representations of multiple politics involving the psychology of the characters and their actions.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES

[1] According to Ruskin, man’s duties are in the public sphere and include the maintenance, progress and defence of the home, whereas the woman’s duties are private and involve the securing of domestic order, peace and comfort. Kate Millet in Sexual Politics (1970) has read in the theory of separate spheres ‘the period’s most ingenious mechanism for restraining insurgent women’. However, recent scholarship has criticized Millet’s argument stating that Ruskin, far from prescribing confinement for women, actually advocated education and public duties for women and his stands were quite radical in the context of the nineteenth century. For more details on counter arguments against Millet, see for example, David Sonstroem’s ‘Millet versus Ruskin: A Defense of Ruskin’s “Of Queens’ Gardens”’ (1977); Linda H. Peterson’s ‘The Feminist Origins of “Of Queens’ Gardens”’ (2002) and Seth Koven’s ‘How the Victorians Read Sesame and Lilies’ (2002).

 

[2] John Ruskin, ‘Of Queens’ Gardens’, Sesame and Lilies, ed. Deborah Epstein Nord (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), p. 88.

 

[3] Coral Lansbury in her analysis of the novel reads the town of Cranford as ‘as much a Utopia as any devised by a social reformer’. Utopian theorists from Plato onwards have argued that there cannot be any such perfect place on the earth where some of the inhabitants are not dissatisfied. However, Lansbury points out that ‘Cranford is the joyful expression of the liberty of the few in the midst of general conformity’. Coral Lansbury, Elizabeth Gaskell: The Novel of Social Crisis (London: Elek Books Limited, 1975), p.86.

 

[4] Anna Jameson, Sisters of Charity (1855) (https://archive.org/details/sistersofcharity00jame, accessed 10 March 2014), p. 80.

 

[5] Ibid., p. 80.

 

[6] George Lewes, ‘The Lady Novelists’, Westminster Review (July 1852), quoted by Pauline Nestor in Female Friendships and Communities: Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 5.

 

[7] Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford (1853;  repr. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 39.

 

[8] Patricia Wolfe, ‘Structure and Movement in Cranford’, Nineteenth Century Fiction 23(1968), pp. 162-176.

Nina Auerbach, Communities of Women: An Idea in Fiction (1978; repr. Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1998), pp. 78-96.
Jacob Jewusiak, ‘The End of the Novel: Gender and Temporality in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford
(http://www.ncgsjournal.com/issue73/jewusiak.htm, accessed on October 25, 2014)
[9] Lansbury, Elizabeth Gaskell, p. 87.

 

[10] Ibid., p. 88.

 

[11] For more details on female communality in Gaskell, see Pauline Nestor, Female Friendships and Communities: Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

 

[12] Garber writes, ‘Women are to be sequestered deep within the house for their own protection … The man moves; the woman remains at home. In essence she is the home.’ Marjorie Garber, ‘The Body as House’, reprinted partly in The Domestic Space Reader, ed. Chiara Briganti and Kathy Mezei (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), p. 126.

For more details on this theory see, Mark Wigley’s essay ‘Untitled: The Housing of Gender’ in Sexuality and Space, ed. Beatrice Colomina (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992), pp.327-389, where drawing on a medieval treatise on the interior of the body, Wigley argues that the body is a house which houses the soul, but since a woman’s body is open, she needed a second house, that is, a building to contain and protect her soul; Emily Burbank’s Woman as Decoration (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1917) (https://archive.org/details/womanasdecoratio00burbrich, accessed on 5 March 2014) where she traces how the view of the female body as extension of the house became ubiquitous at the beginning of the twentieth century; and Marjorie Garber’s ‘The Body as House’ in Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses (New York: Pantheon Books, 2000), pp.73-80.

 

[13] Garber, ‘The Body as House’, p. 123.

 

[14] Gaskell, Cranford, p. 65.

 

[15] Ibid., p. 79.

 

[16] Ibid., p. 65.

 

[17] Ibid., p. 65.

 

[18] Anna Lepine, ‘“Strange and Rare Visitants”: Spinsters and Domestic Space in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts 32: 2 (2010), 121-137 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08905495.2010.493444, accessed 4 August 2010), p. 130.

 

[19] Ibid., p. 130.

 

[20] Ibid., p. 130.

 

[21] Janet Wolff, ‘The Invisible Flaneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity’, Feminine Sentences: Essays on Woman and Culture (California: University of California Press, 1990), p. 41.

 

[22] Ruskin, ‘Of Queens’ Gardens’, p. 78.

 

[23] Anna Despotopoulou, ‘The Abuse of Visibility: Domestic Publicity in Late Victorian Fiction’, Inside Out: Women Negotiating, Subverting, Appropriating Public and Private Space, ed. Teresa Gomex Reus and Aranzazu Usandizaga (New York: Rodopi Press, 2008) in Google Books (accessed  20 January 2014), p. 87.

 

[24] Lansbury, Elizabeth Gaskell, p. 88.

 

[25] Thad Logan, The Victorian Parlour: A Cultural Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 1.

 

[26] Ibid., p.23.

 

[27] Ibid., p.35.


Deblina Hazra is a final year M. Phil student at Jadavpur University, Department of English. She has completed her graduation and post-graduation from the same department. Her published works include, among others, “Escaping Victimhood: Refugees as a new Socio-Political Subject in Prafulla Ray’s Keyapatar Nouko and Shotodharay Boye Jaye”, published in Muse India (Issue 55, May-June 2014), “Female Camaraderie in Gaskell: A Study of ‘Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras’, ‘The Well of Pen-Morfa’ and ‘Lizzie Leigh’” published in Efflorescence (Issue 4, 2014), Journal of the Department of English in Naba Ballygunge Mahavidyalaya, and “‘Elegant Economy’: A Study of Old Age and Economic Agency in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford” published in Middle Flight (Vol.3, No. 1, September 2014), Journal of the Department of English in S. S Mahavidyalaya. She has also presented papers at several national and international conferences. Her areas of interests are Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture, Post-colonial Literature and Indian Literature in English

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