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Gender Normativity in Aurora Floyd; How Variances in Gender Behavior Illustrate Societal Norms - Essay Example

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Aurora Floyd is a character designed to upset gender norms, scandalize the locals, and yet to somehow be loved by all. Her dear cousin, Lucy, on the other hand, perfectly conforms to gender stereotypes, and yet is rejected by the man that she loves. Through the comparison of these two women, and by looking at how they were treated and thought of in their society, the reader is able to draw a clear understanding of the gender norm of femininity during the time of Mary Elizabeth Bradden, and her novel, Aurora Floyd.
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Gender Normativity in Aurora Floyd; How Variances in Gender Behavior Illustrate Societal Norms
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Download file to see previous pages It is more likely, however, that Aurora's childhood was the primary influencer of her unfeminine behavior. At the loss of her mother, Aurora was allowed to do anything she pleased, as long as she was happy. Indeed
She said what she pleased; thought, spoke, acted as she pleased; learned what she pleased; and she grew into a bright, impetuous being, affectionate and generous-hearted as her mother, but with some touch of native fire blended in her mould that stamped her as original. (Bradden 9)
Without the careful training that young girls of the era received, Aurora was unable to succumb to traditional femininity. She read novels with inappropriate content, new of horse racing and betting, spent long days on horseback, and was quick to say what she thought. She was a strong, independent young lady, the exact opposite of what was desired in a woman!
exactly the sort of woman to make a good wife. She had been educated to that end by a careful mother. Purity and goodness had watched over her and hemmed her in from the cradle. She had never seen unseemly sights, or heard unseemly sounds. She was as ignorant as a baby of all the vices and horrors of this big world. She was ladylike, accomplished, well-informed. (Bradden 21)
Lucy was quiet and calm and good, willing to suffer for her husband and willing to do as she was told. As a model of femininity, she is perfect. There could be no recourse against her. However, it is her very perfection in femininity that makes her less noticeable by the men in the story. While Captain Bulstrode believes she would make an ideal wife, he also ponders the idea that "There are so many Lucys, but so few Auroras; and while you never could be critical with the one, you were merciless in your scrutiny of the other" (Bradden 21). Because she is perfect, it is impossible to fall in love with her, because of an internal fear that the man's own imperfections will be clearer next to her. While she is what should be desired in a wife, it is the wild Aurora that catches men's attentions; with her boldness and imperfection.
These two young women represent two very different personalities. Aurora, who has everything, but still maintains the wildness and lower class lifestyle that her mother had, and Lucy, who has modest wealth, but has been raised to be the perfect specimen of femininity. Even their coloring matches the ideals. Aurora is dark haired and dark eyed, and was "a good hater" (Braddon 12). Lucy was fair haired and blue eyed, the Victorian ideal of beauty. Aurora, throughout the novel, acts and does precisely what she wants. However, even she is not able to make all her own choices. By force, she is sent to finishing school in Paris, and then has to endure a woman meant to help polish her when she returns. Lucy, who has the feminine graces, did not have to endure these actions, but instead has to endure the pain of being overlooked by the man she loves, as she can be nothing but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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