The Waste Land

Woolf, Eliot, Modernism, and the Emerging Faith of Early Feminism versus Victorian Values: The Role of the Feminine as a Subversive Site of Resistance College

The works of T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf represent the eve of first-wave feminism, where traditional Victorian principles have been challenged by controversy in the Royal Family, the more assertive role that women played in the First World War and receiving the vote for women (although only for 30-year-old householders, or wives of householders). This meant that the challenge of sexuality, gender and the ‘biological’ and social status of women was in flux (i.e. the weaker, romantic and fairer sex was being replaced with stronger figures). The problem for women is that they had to show one face to society, whilst underneath the Victorian norms that still pervaded the early Twentieth Century, were being challenged. This is represented by Clarissa Dalloway in the mirror scenes, in Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. There is conflict with this development of the feminine in Eliot’s The Wasteland, which sees it as a move from glory of the genders in the Victorian era, to the sordidness of feminism and modernity. In both texts, there is psychological stress caused by the change, although in different ways. Therefore Mrs. Dalloway represents modernism’s challenge of the weak, feminine persona, perpetrated by Victorian beliefs and replaced it...

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