Independent women rendered sick, supple, and submissive: Charlotte Lennox and Jane Austen critique the gendering of sensibility ; and, Melville’s Bartleby: a perfectly-crafted anomaly

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth Marie Grubbs (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
James E. Evans

Abstract: Arabella of Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote and Marianne Dashwood of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility are headstrong, independent female characters who are unwilling to submit to the husbands that their families have chosen for them. These women pose a threat to the patriarchal order of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by rejecting their appropriate social roles as physically weak and intellectually inferior females in need of male protection and guidance, gender distinctions propagated by a culture of sensibility through medical, philosophical, and literary discourse. Utilizing reformation narratives common in domestic novels, Lennox and Austen divest Arabella and Marianne of their autonomous lifestyles and quickly place them into marriages authorized by their families. However, the restrained tones of these marital conclusions, in which Arabella and Marianne are objectified and stripped of their vibrant personalities, subvert the convention of reforming insubordinate women and placing them under male control. Therefore, the hurried and disappointing denouements of the novels indicate Austen's and Lennox's critiques of this gendering of sensibility. GRUBBS, ELIZABETH MARIE, M.A. Melville's Bartleby: A Perfectly-Crafted Anomaly. Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" has puzzled readers for years and provoked hundreds of scholars to explain Bartleby's strange behavior in a multitude of ways using a variety of critical methodologies. An examination of scholars' compulsion and frustration with classifying this odd character along with a close analysis of the narrator's obsession with understanding Bartleby reveals society's determination to reduce humans into known identity types. Thus by creating a personification of ambiguity through the character of Bartleby that resists simplification, Melville critiques the social drive to classify people using these normalized identity roles. In particular, Melville reveals the limitations and paradoxes existing within the appropriate role of the mid-nineteenth-century male through a representation of the problematic aspects of capitalism and Jacksonian freedom in antebellum America.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Bartleby, Charlotte Lennox, Identity, Jane Austen, Melville, Women's bodies
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $x Criticism and interpretation
Austen, Jane, $d 1775-1817. $t Sense and sensibility
Lennox, Charlotte, $d approximately 1729-1804 $x Criticism and interpretation
Women and literature $z England $x History $y 18th century
Women in literature $x History $y 18th century
Melville, Herman, $d 1819-1891. $t Bartleby, the scrivener

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