Images of Welsh Women as Portrayed by Anglo-Welsh Women Novelists, 1850-1985.

  • Angela Fish

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Socially constructed models of femininity have directed the lives of women for centuries and this has often been reflected in the literature of each historical period. Classical and biblical literature promoted images of ideal women, while demonstrating also, through representations of their counterparts, the fate of women who challenged the status quo. Such images were modified as societies changed but, in general, it was only the women who conformed who achieved lasting happiness through marriage. In Victorian Britain the rise of the domestic ideology gave birth to the restrictive stereotype of the Perfect Lady and this effectively confined women to the home.

    Welsh women's history has mostly remained hidden, but recent studies of nineteenth century female education have highlighted the extent to which English middle class domestic ideology influenced Welsh society. To counteract the undesirable images of Welsh women projected by the 1847 Reports of the Commissions of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales, the literature of Wales developed strong mother figures, delineated as the repositories for moral values. Thus, the English paragon was imported into Wales as a working-class model; The Mam. By the end of the century, women were seeking equality in education and employment, and equal legal and political status, and this philosophy also percolated through to the working classes.

    While the images of Welsh women which women novelists in Wales have presented do include such stereotypes as, the Perfect Lady, Mam, New Woman, and Harlot, the authors have demonstrated a considerable range and depth of characterization. Despite the restrictions of the genre many of them have addressed social and political issues, especially those which focused on the position of women, within their works, and have represented the harsh realities of life for women in Wales. Their novels reflect an acute awareness of the inequalities between the sexes which were propagated by Church and State, and it is significant that it is the women writers who have all, to a greater or lesser degree, identified education as the key to female emancipation.
    Date of AwardMar 1995
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTony Curtis (Supervisor)

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