Date of Award
Master of Arts
Sean C. Grass
Rhoda Broughton's Cometh Up as a Flower and Ouida's (Marie Louise Ramè) Moths were highly popular in the Victorian period, but have fallen from the favor of readers and critics over the course of the twentieth century. Of note is each author's overt discussion of the topic of female sexuality, the very treatment of which challenges traditional Victorian standards of morality. In looking at these books, I assess their representations of the ways in which Victorian societal strictures--particularly in categorizing and objectifying women--interfered with the formation of female sexuality and female identity.
While Broughton and Ouida do not discuss female identity in quite the same manner, they both address concerns about the commodification of the female body, especially as this occurs within the marriage market. In turn, while these authors would not necessarily have considered themselves feminists, their books discuss questions of primary interest to New Woman feminist advocates at the fin-de-siècle. Issues surrounding female subjection are at the core of New Woman advocacy, and for this reason I see Cometh Up as a Flower and Moths as precursors to the New Woman novel that emerged near the end of the Victorian period. Ultimately, I view these works by Broughton and Ouida as bridging the gap from mid-century Victorian women's literature to the literature of the fin-de-siècle, thus making it possible for New Woman fiction to evolve.
Caroline E. Martin
Martin, Caroline E., "Anticipating the New Woman figure through subversions of feminine identity: Rhoda Broughton, Ouida, and female sexuality" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14479.