COLEGIUL NATIONAL “GHEORGHE LAZAR” SIBIU

Lucrare pentru obţinerea Atestatului de competenţă lingvistică Limba engleză – intensiv/bilingv

Absolvent: Şofan Bianca Maria Clasa a XII-a A Profesor coordonator: Alexandra Cristea

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“GHEORGHE LAZAR” NATIONAL COLLEGE

Women writers and feminism - Jane Austen and Agatha Christie Student: Şofan Bianca Maria Advisor: Alexandra Cristea
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Summary Introduction Chapter 1: Feminist literature Chapter 2: Jane Austen's Biography Chapter 3: Agatha Christie's Biography Chapter 4: The feminist tendencies of Jane Austen's novels: Chapter 5: The feminist tendencies of Agatha Christie's novels: Conclusion Sources Introduction 3 .

reproductive rights and better child care. This subject is of interest because feminism was and it still is one of the most relevant and important events that took place in America. this paper will contain different arguments brought by the feminist writers Jane Austen and Agatha Christie and other important figures to the feminist problem and also their contribution to the evolution of modern literature. The problem of feminism is being discussed all over the world due to the fact that along a century it changed the course of history. financial and legal independence. The seven demands which were requested in the past are of great importance in the present day: equal pay. are only some of the privileges earned by women. Furthermore. Feminism was acknowledged because it gave women the rights and the equality needed to be independent. The first chapter will present feminism and literature and their evolution in history followed by a biography of its both representatives : 4 . opportunities and education. the paper will prove the existence of feminist tendencies in the writers’ works with examples of well-known novels. to have significant positions like those which men have. to enter in politics.This paper will present the movement known as feminism and especially its impact over literature. Women nowadays are grateful to those who have fought for them and the freedom experienced today. also the right to vote. At the same time. politicians and many other social groups. The claiming of the rights required by women drew the attention of the press. Great Britain and then all over the world. The thesis will be structured in four chapters which will debate on the problem of worldwide feminism and the existence of feminist tendencies in literature.

as the name suggests. and to be accepted as a human being. is based on the principles of feminism.Jane Austen and Agatha Christie in chapters two and three ending with chapter four and five where the paper will argue on the feminist tendencies contained in the authors’ works. It is only through such media that women believed a change was 5 . and refers to any literary work that centers around the struggle of a woman for equality. before being cast into a gender stereotype. which is feminism and its consequences in the past and also in literature and the way it evolved up to the present day. the paper will deal with a real problem. Not all these works follow a direct approach towards this goal of equality. To sum up. Chapter 1: Feminist literature Feminist literature.

possible in the way they were perceived in society. It is important to note. Women have been ostracized by society for openly demanding equality. or stereotypes that give these female characters in literature their identity. It is not these relationships. Though a daughter. while others may be non fictional. Not all feminist literature has been written by women. both for the character. and are ready to deal with the consequences of these choices. where women demanded a closer look into the patriarchal and capitalistic approach towards feminism. any piece of feminist literature first deals with a woman as a woman. who. a sister. to express this choice of personal decision-making. Some works may be fictional. and decisions. for political. a mother. In modern feminist literature. the attack on a male-dominated society became more forthright and straightforward. and for the author of the work. do not readily accept the traditional role of women as decided by society. They are ready to make their own decisions. roles. and have had to face several negative consequences of their decision to go against the waves. Not only in feminist literature. but some pieces of feminist literature (particularly non-fiction) showcase and stress on women's suffrage and a demand for equality in society. women have been treated as important subjects but also in many literary works by men. Not all. or a wife. more often than not. 6 . Women in literature of the feminist nature are always featured as the protagonist. social. not all works of feminist literature have happy endings. that. Their identity is defined by their choices and their beliefs which are then associated with these roles. but also by men who understood women beyond the roles they were expected to fit into. and delved into their psyche to understand their needs and desires. actions. and economic rights.

they are still expected to fulfill certain roles and stereotypes that have been the norm for centuries.Though a lot has changed in today's time. While in the urban setting. and so will their requirements and beliefs. make history. The roles of daughters. wives. and mothers in literature will keep changing. if you have equal rights and chances. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat. you can succeed in changing the world or like the phrase said." One of the conclusions that could be drawn from this statement is that despite the fact that you are a man or a woman. there is still an underlying feminist movement that is being carried out by women all over the world. women have almost been given their dues. in the rural setting. The concept of gender equality that focuses primarily on women's rights has come a long way." 7 . women are still expected to live by the stereotypes cast by society. and it will be a while before gender equality and the role of women in society will be clear in the ideal sense. Feminist literature of different periods will depict different desires and different wants under the purview of feminism. though women have achieved a lot more than society has given them credit for. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said: "Well-behaved women seldom make history.. it is a long battle that is being fought. Rebecca West said: "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. Yet.. Even in the urban setting. and feminist literature has been a great medium to bring about any visible changes in the attitude towards women.

Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. though fundamentally comic.A conclusion could be drawn from this statement and that is the fact that people should not judge women or feminists just because they have other views and instead they should listen to them and debate their opinions with the purpose of extracting the best ideas from those opinions.Her plots.highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Chapter 2: Jane Austen's Biography Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction. her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics. 8 .

9 . As Austen grew into adulthood. slow. Edward (1767–1852). Early in 1816. Around early 1809. and attended female relatives during childbirth and older relatives on their deathbeds. Jane and Cassandra were sent to Oxford to be educated by Mrs. after his bank failed. Austen's brother Edward offered his mother and sisters a more settled life—the use of a large cottage in Chawton village.Of her brothers.Francis William (Frank) (1774–1865). She ignored her illness at first and continued to work and to participate in the usual round of family activities. who. Hampshire. Jane Austen began to feel unwell. assisted her sister and mother with supervising servants. Charles John (1779–1852)—and one sister. By the middle of that year. and Austen's physical condition began a long. had six children:James (1765–1819). Ann Cawley and they moved with her to Southampton later in the year. and plays for her own and her family's amusement.Austen's parents. In 1783. stories. Austen felt closest to Henry. George (1766–1838). died unmarried. Austen began to write poems. her decline was unmistakable to Austen and to her family. an Anglican clergyman. like Jane. Henry Thomas (1771–1850). and his wife Cassandra (1739–1827). who became a banker and. Cassandra Elizabeth was Austen's closest friend and confidante throughout her life. Cassandra Elizabeth(Steventon. and irregular deterioration culminating in her death the following year. carrying out those activities normal for women of her age and social standing: she practised the fortepiano. George Austen (1731–1805). Perhaps as early as 1787. she continued to live at her parents' home. 9 January 1773–1845). according to family tradition.

the eccentric Belgian who relied on his keen grasp of logic to nab crooks. They have been translated to dozens of languages. she also read stories for BBC Radio. Christie enjoyed a career that spanned over fifty years and her works have now sold into the billions. inspired numerous other authors’ works. the stage. and film. and have been adapted to radio. plays. and poetry. prolific English ‘Queen of Crime’ author of worldrenown created such famous detectives as Hercule Poirot. wrote non-fiction.Chapter 3: Agatha Christie's Biography: Dame Agatha Christie [pseudonym Mary Westmacott] (1890-1976). As well as a writer of crime mysteries. 10 . romances.

Having long been encouraged by her mother to write. In 1926. France in 1906. Their bewilderment and personal sorrows affected her deeply. During WWI Agatha worked as a nurse. tending to the ill and injured. at the age of twenty-four. travelling on the famed Orient Express from Calais. profoundly grieving the death of her mother. and piano. Christie married Royal Flying Corps pilot Archie Christie. She amassed a great deal of knowledge about sicknesses and poisons such as strychnine and ricin that she often featured in her novels. On 24 December 1914. The family attended All Saint’s Church where Agatha was baptised. Margaret ‘Madge’ (1879-1950) and brother Louis ‘Monty’ Montant (1880-1929). Agatha continued to write there while also studying music (which became a life-long love). The shy and sensitive Agatha. 11 . Christie created some mystery of her own. singing. had an older sister. disappearing for a time. who was very close to her mother. when she was found she claimed that she had had a bout of amnesia. Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was the youngest of the three children born to Clarissa ‘Clara’ Margaret née Boehmer (1855-1926) and American Frederick Alvah Miller (1846-1901). In 1928. who died when Agatha was just ten years old. Devon. an immediate bestseller. Archie divorced Agatha. England on 15 September 1890.Born in the family home Ashfield in Torquay. many who were displaced Belgians. Around this time she also started writing her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She then set off on her first of many trips to the Middle East. Rosalind (1919-2004). While she received no formal education. with whom she would have a daughter. her mother and then governesses taught her at home to read before she entered finishing school in Paris.

and in 1971 she received England’s highest honor. In 1960 Max was honoured as Commander of the British Empire (CBE) and in 1968 knighted for his archaeological work. (1904-1978). Christie herself won many awards and honours in her life-time including. received the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master award. Max survived her by two years. the Order of the British Empire. In 1974 Christie appeared for the last time in public on opening night for her play Murder on the Orient Express. 12 . where she died peacefully on 12 January 1976. They now rest together in the Parish Church cemetery of St. became president of The British Detection Club. her and Max’s home in England was in the town of Wallingford. 1961. awarded an honorary degree from Exeter University. Oxfordshire. Mary’s in Cholsey.France to Baghdad. then on to the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia. It was on her second trip there she met her future husband. When she was not travelling the world. She often accompanied him on digs as a member of the team. They were married in Scotland on 11 September 1930. 1967. Iraq. 1955. photographing and cataloguing finds. archaeologist Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan. Dame Commander. Oxfordshire.

Emma. Collins who holds the entail to the family house if she never 13 . for example. even though this was the only acceptable career for women. especially as it affected women. who will be dependent on her family and at the mercy of Mr. She was a forerunner of the feminists. Elizabeth. the problems of women in her day and had some scathing criticisms of society. tells Harriet that she doesn't want to get married at all and that women with their own money are always respectable. However. this is not true.Chapter 4: The feminist tendencies of Jane Austen's novels: Jane Austen has the reputation of only writing about young women whose only interest in life was marriage and is often derided because of it. Her heroines were not only interested in marriage and children. She wrote about the relationships between men and women.

are all intelligent and serious women. Her heroines. Jane Austen will still continue to be derided by many feminists and many men as well which is a pity. in spite of family outrage.marries. ''Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story'' wrote Jane Austen. Darcy. for women may have 14 . And in this respect she seems typical. remarks to Edward how much she envies men being able to have careers. in Sense and Sensibility. a wealthy suitor. Elizabeth actually refuses two proposals . "Authorship for Austen is an escape from the very restraints she imposes on her female characters. not silly. apart from Catherine Rose in Northanger Abbey. Collins and one from the very handsome.after all she had one herself. It is possible to also argue that Jane Austen believed that women should have careers . In spite of all this. Instead of exalting the value of tradition and virtue in her prose. Whether we see Austen as a feminist because we are looking for evidence in her text or because she truly was a feminist is something that we may never be able to discern. it was not the way critics had once believed. wealthy Mr. Austen defied it and made a case for feminine rights. It is understandable if they don't like her writing but deriding her for the wrong reasons is only stupid. Fanny refuses Henry Crawford. only wants to marry if she can find 'the very deepest love'. Elinor.one from the pompous Mr. While it may be true that Austen was a romance writer.

And it has been pointed out that Jane Austen makes an implicit statement by simply disregarding certain structures of her era that may not be obvious to modern readers. Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. most of Jane Austen's heroines (Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.when a character in a Jane Austen novel makes a broad statement that seems to stand up for women in general. Jane Austen is not a simple ideologue -.contributed so significantly to narrative fiction precisely because it effectively objectifies. even as it sustains and hides. and is not meant to be taken seriously. Thus they must make their own decisions more or less independently (for example. the subjectivity of its author" (Gilbert and Gubar) Of course. or whose advice they can rely on. On the other hand. In Pride and Prejudice the main example is Caroline Bingley's statement to Darcy that "Eliza Bennet is one of those young ladies who seek to recommend themselves to the other sex by undervaluing their own. this is actually usually done by an unsympathetic character (such as Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey or Mrs. Elton in Emma). Jane Austen presents a rather cool and objective view of the limited options open to women (in Pride and Prejudice this is done through the character Charlotte Lucas). and with many men. and even Emma Woodhouse in Emma) don't have anyone whom they can confide in. about certain delicate matters. her sister and closest 15 . however. I dare say. Elizabeth Bennet doesn't reveal to Jane. Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Anne Elliot in Persuasion. it succeeds. For example.

On one hand. It is interesting that the most explicit feminist protests by Jane Austen in her six novels all have to do with literature. this may be the first obviously feminine thing about her novels. and exactly how much of it there was" (Moers) Chapter 5: The feminist tendencies of Agatha Christie's novels: Agatha Christie. . Boynton in Christie's Appointment with Death. Is Christie a feminist or anti-feminist writer. have money in them. written between the years 1920 and 1973. and the best of her first sentences.confidante. for money and its making were characteristically female rather than male subjects in English fiction. and she has accepted). Mrs. for example. ''All of Jane Austen's opening paragraphs. evaluating an author as feminist or anti-feminist involves making subjective judgements that are influenced by a particular reader's conception of feminism and interpretation of a work. Boynton is the epitome of the 16 . in some middle ground? Obviously. whose books. The character of Mrs. have sold over five hundred million copies and have been translated into dozens of languages. . her changed feelings about Darcy until he has actually proposed again. From her earliest years Austen had the kind of mind that inquired where the money came from on which young women were to live. or do her works fall somewhere in between. provides a real dilemma for the critic. .

knowledge. are shown to be deadly and destructive. competence. Is this characterization feminist or anti-feminist? Certainly there is support for either judgment. daughters. sisters. Yet at the end of this novel. skills. who uses reason. and method to conduct his investigations. a subjective one. Boynton as a personification of evil power. political and psychological problems women face as part of a patriarchal society. lovers. who explores female consciousness and female perceptions of the world. as a particularly malignant female Machiavelli.dominating. mothers. who shows. and Ariadne Oliver usually fails to uncover the truth because of her untidy mind. will depend on whether the reader/critic chooses to see Mrs. who creates women who have psychological complexity and transcend the sexist stereotypes that are as old as Eve and as limited as the lives of most fictional spinster schoolmarms. The final decision. women capable of intelligence. not just as "the other sex" (in other words. who reveals the economic. intimates that perhaps Mrs. and servants of men). castrating mother stereotype. too many of these women. as a norm and not as freaks. Boynton is a tragic figure. and independent action. In contrast to Hercule Poirot. as the heroes. they claim. Christie makes us sympathize with her victimized family and view Mrs. 17 . who presents women as central characters. herself a victim of a patriarchal society that provides few outlets for strongminded. and energies. as the wives. moral responsibility. Christie. Boynton as evil by nature or a pathetic victim of society. power-hungry women other than domestic tyranny. social. A feminist writer will be defined as a writer. Christie does portray women making it on their own in society through their brains. female or male. Miss Marple relies on intuition and nosiness.

The women in Endless Night are an unattractive lot. such as The 18 . she must be saved by Dr. and when she is accused of murdering Roddy's new girlfriend. an overprotected rich girl. sometimes shows women as inferior to and dependent on men. In Evil Under the Sun. Gerta is a criminal accomplice whose hypocrisy is only matched by her disloyalty and cold heart. they fail to consider carefully some of Christie's lesser-known works. And Then There Were None. Certainly some of her most popular detective novels (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. or as gossipy old ladies. Other less famous novels are just as anti-feminist. dress designer Rosamund Darnley gladly gives up her successful business enterprise when the man she loves proposes and insists she live in the country and devote herself full-time to marriage and stepmotherhood. after he tries to kill her. sentimental and helpless: She is obsessed with love for her cousin Roddy. Christie. Yet Christie should not be so easily dismissed as an anti-feminist writer. often uses sexist stereotypes of women. is a truly romantic heroine. Elinor. is perfect prey for the two unscrupulous murders she is too stupid to recognize as threats. The A. Murders. Lord and Hercule Poirot. Aunt Cora is only interested in money and what money can buy. a classic damsel in distress. Elinor Carlisle. all representing negative stereotypes of women: Ellie.B.Christie's books display sexism. occasionally idealizes self-abnegating women and monsterizes strong women. and frequently implies that woman's true vocation is marriage and motherhood. Lynn Marchmont. Murder on the Orient Express) present women in totally stereotypical ways: as empty-headed ingenues. in There Is a Tide. Perhaps because readers and critics usually concentrate on Christie's major works. for example. for example. it is clear. is only really attracted to her dull fiancé Rowley Cloade. The main character in Sad Cypress.C.

and often are direct contradictions to certain sexist "truisms" about the female sex. a poor vicar. For instance. The Moving Finger. for instance). prefer to use their brains to ensnare a mate or run a household rather than to 19 . Hinch and Murgatroyd in A Murder Is Announced and Clotilde Bradbury-Scott in Nemesis). are not all defined solely in relation to men. feminists (Cecilia Williams in Murder in Retrospect. Christie also presents. this category also includes lesbians (for example. creating some very admirable female heroes. Murder After Hours. Joyce and Miranda in Hallowe'en. Julia and Jeniffer in Cat Among the Pigeons). young women married to older men are supposed to be mercenary and adulterous. but Christie's Griselda Clement (in The Murder at the Vicarage) is totally devoted to her scholarly older husband. A Murder Is Announced. Besides unmarried older women such as Jane Marple. and Cat Among the Pigeons. Only a writer with a healthy respect for women's abilities and a knowledge of real women could create the diversity of female characters Christie does. Women. a category of women who are generally ignored or ridiculed in literature because their lives are independent of men's lives: the single women. in a positive way. it is also commonly believed. Her women characters display competence in many fields. Josephine in Crooked House. and handicapped women (such as Millicent Pebmarsh in The Clocks). and exploring many problems women face as a result of the sexism that pervades our society. often defy sexist "traditional wisdom" about the female sex. all of which illustrate that Christie is capable of presenting a wide range of female characters that go beyond anti-feminist stereotypes. furthermore.Secret Adversary. children (Geraldine in The Clocks. Christie's women.

One such problem is the economic oppression of women. Surpassing the careers of even her most redoubtable heroines. In A Murder Is Announced. Yet beautiful young Renisenb (in Death Comes As the End) is interested in learning about life and death and the politics of ancient Egypt. neatly camouflaged feminism of her life and work demands acknowledgment. “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations. as much a reality today as ever. As well as in the diversity of her women characters and in her delightful female heroes. problems that have not changed much over the centuries. and suddenly you find—at the age of fifty. Christie also uses her most complex women characters as incidental detectives. Christie's distrust of the current male-model workplace as not conducive to health or creativity anticipates Betty Friedan's mature feminist views in The Second Stage (1991). a single woman with no family to support her financially.contemplate philosophy and politics. if these women marry. putting them through strengthening quests for female selfhood based on her own life traumas. writing itself is a feminist act. 20 . say—that a whole new life has opened before you. the marriage is a partnership of equals similar to what Christie tried to achieve in her own two marriages. Christie's feminist sympathies are revealed in the way she points out problems women face living in a patriarchy. Christie ultimately demonstrates that for her. Dora Bunner. describes the ignominy of her poverty. The implied.

the three waves of 21 . Still. In my opinion feminism was of great importance because women were underpaid at work and undervalued at home. a fact impossible until then. it is easy to imagine that feminism was a dream of impossible futures. The fight sustained by women was extremely hard but successful and women received the rights they wanted: access to politics..” —An (1977).. It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you. Autobiography Conclusion Feminism was a movement of great importance which offered women equal chances with men. study. due to the fact that few had attained positions of power and influence and because so many are still subject of discrimination and violence from men. education and better child care.filled with things you can think about. or read about..

In my opinion Jane Austen was one of the most important forerunners of feminism and the feminist tendencies in her work are obvious. Maybe in the future it will be going through another change and offering a new kind of challenge to women and men whose consciousness has been raised by the first decade. feminism was always a fluid movement with a rare degree of creativity and adaptiveness. recognizing the seriousness and the complexity of the issues which are being raised and responding as men to the new knowledge which women have created. Furthermore. Also Agatha Christie is in my opinion a modern feminist who always tried to hide that she was a feminist but she spoke through her characters exposing her view on the movement. nowadays many people recognize that feminism represents a great step towards equality and sanity in human relationships. Nevertheless there were also restrictions regarding women in literature. That is certainly something worth fighting for. 22 . They were not allowed to publish any work which was aimed directly towards men but they still managed to write important works like:”The feminine mystique” . Therefore. From my point of view. I think men should take up the feminist challenge and engage in a critical dialogue with the movement itself.feminism offered women revolutionary results. ”The second sex” which were a revelation of that era and contained the feminist ideology.

cengage.Sources www.scribd.readreactreview.com www.com www.buzzle.com 23 .gale.ro www.com www.feminist.org www.pemberley.

4. No. Winter. 16. Vol. Marty S.Bouchier. David. Agatha Christie-Feminist in Armchair Detective. The Feminist Challenge Knepper. 1983 24 .