AbstractClothing the “New Woman”’ will examine the way my understanding of the ‘New Woman’ differs from the conventional view of the New Woman as a political figure, specifically focusing on how the ‘New Woman’ reflects her identity through her clothing. Using Henry James’s Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady and Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, I will analyse how Daisy Miller, Isabel Archer, Ellen Olenska and Lily Bart’s characters contrast to the traditional understanding of the New Woman, because they are simply trying to have control over their own lives. This idea led to the development of my argument that for many characters being a ‘New Woman’ is not about making a wider political statement, such as arguing for the vote, it is about personal liberation. A key way in which the ‘New Woman’ expresses her individuality and freedom is through her clothing. However, Isabel’s dress conforms to expectations of society, therefore, I will use her as an example to show how the ‘New Woman’ identity is not always fixed and stable. Chapter One will offer a full definition of my understanding of the ‘New Woman’ examining how Daisy, Isabel, Ellen and Lily embody the ‘New Woman’ ideal. Chapter Two will begin by briefly outlining the social significance of dress in the nineteenth century. It will then go onto analyse the ‘New Woman’s’ clothing in her first appearance in each narrative, looking at how their dress reflects their sense of personal freedom and liberation and how Isabel’s dress contrasts her to the other ‘New Woman’ figures. Chapter Three will continue to examine the ‘New Woman’s’ clothing, focusing on the development of their relationship with clothing as the narratives progress. The conclusion will briefly discuss the endings of each text to analyse what becomes of the ‘New Woman’.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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