Victorian Literature and the Anorexic Body (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture)
Anna Krugovoy Silver
Anna Silver examines the methods nineteenth-century British writers used actual states of the feminine body--hunger, urge for food, fats and slenderness--in the construction of lady characters. She argues that anorexia nervosa, first clinically determined in 1873, serves as a paradigm for the cultural excellent of middle-class womanhood in Victorian Britain. Silver makes use of the works of a variety of writers (including Charlotte Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker and Lewis Carroll) to illustrate that mainstream types of middle-class Victorian womanhood percentage very important characteristics with the ideals or behaviors of the anorexic girl.
, a doctor named D. McNeill describes an “extraordinary fasting case” within which a fourteen-year-old woman: “For twenty-one months . . . persisted consuming little or not anything other than a bit jelly, ‘sweeties,’ and sherry”; McNeill doesn't supply a prognosis or use the time period “anorexia nervosa,” in basic terms proposing the sufferer for instance of exceptional fasting. whereas we will be able to by no means understand even if Maggie Sutherland, the woman in query, suffered from anorexia nervosa, her meals refusal used to be already, in.
center- and working-class ladies are negligible and needs to in some way be established, “performed,” via styles of foodstuff consumption and physique dimension. Anorexia nervosa is barely the pathological severe of a continuum on which many Victorian ladies discovered themselves. a lady isn't unavoidably anorexic if she rigorously regulates what she eats and if she laces herself right into a corset with a purpose to characterize her purity and chastity; however, the lady who workouts regulate over physique fats within the try and reside up.
excitement on the sight of whatever to devour . . . All this discloses a robust disposition to what's known as gluttony – an ignoble fault, which degrades us to the extent of mere brutes.” right here, urge for food is explicitly attached with the wishes of the physique, animalistic wants that experience no position within the family woman. frequently, the will to consume in children’s literature symbolizes an unattractive trait, reminiscent of selﬁshness or interest, that either boys and girls needs to keep an eye on. Little Harriet, in baby Land,.
Her to be redeemed. despite the fact that, Du Maurier isn't suggesting that Trilby’s sexual adventure is unimportant. Little Billee does rail, brieﬂy, opposed to the sexual double common, dramatically mentioning: “what a hideous disgrace it's that there may be one legislation for the girl and one other for the guy” (), however the novel doesn't endure out this viewpoint. fairly, from the time that Little Billee meets Trilby, he: “divined a long way down underneath the shining floor of these eyes . . . a good of sweetness;.
Emaciation – her epidermis used to be so natural and white and gentle, and the bones of her face so admirable” (). Later, the narrator writes: “And then Trilby’s pathetic good looks, so touching, so profitable, in its fast decay . . . her childlike simplicity, her obvious forgetfulness of self ” (). Like a fasting saint, Trilby’s thinness corporealizes the essentially strong and first rate soul that even the evil Svengali had glimpsed within the contours of her mouth. Her “emaciation” and the “decay” of her physique.