Ragesree (1537251) : Gender Studies – The Modern Heroine

Bisland, Elizabeth. “The Morals of the Modern Heroine.” The North American Review. 15.3 (1902): 225-237. JSTOR. Web. 09 June 2016.

The article examines how the nuances of morals have not changed along with time for the “heroine”. The author states that the men have cleverly imposed the weight of the morals on the feminine counterpart instead of sharing it in equal terms. This sense of duty is reflected in literature, which portrays the “heroine” within the peripheries of these morals.

The article traces the evolution of the “heroine” figure in literature, from the advent of the European civilization till the modern times. The author categorises the heroine figure is broadly three categories : the eternal feminine, the passionless goddess, and the greedy child. The article argues that the women themselves were not aware of the game of morals from ancient times to the modern. Mauverick says :

In the early literatures one finds the heroine, the ideal woman, varying from Antigone to Medea; from Phaedra to Penelope; and, tucked in between these extremes of virtues and vices on the heroic scale, there has been an endless chain of rosy, laughing, comfortable young persons with the morals of rabbits and the mentality of butterflies. (3)

The article concludes with the ways in which virtues and vices describes a woman. The modern heroine too is not free from the bondage of this labelling. The author states that even the rigorous writings of female authors have not transformed the situation.


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