Social Position of Victorian Women: Villette and Emma

Gökçek A.

Comparative Literature, vol.1, no.1, pp.1-13, 2021 (Journal Indexed in AHCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 1 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/25723618.2021.1876970
  • Title of Journal : Comparative Literature
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-13


This paper aims to point out to the social position of women in early 19th century England with references to Jane Austen’s Emma and Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. In the first part, in addition to the definition of the ideal Victorian woman, limited educational, economic, and social opportunities of women will also be pointed out. In the second part, Villette will be handled in terms of its approach to the social problems of women such as their limited job and educational opportunities. Social norms drawn for an ideal Victorian woman and the significance of the institution of marriage for women will also be scrutinized. In the third part, Emma will be studied in terms of its reflection of the social position of women. With the analyses of two novels, the paper aims to conclude that in the Victorian Era, women were seen as social inferiors because of the prejudice against them in society. Examining how Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen became the voice of the injustice and prejudices against women, the paper concludes that Victorian women could only justify their presence on earth by dedicating themselves to others through self-effacement, duty, and sacrifice. In addition to this, the paper also points out that in early 19th century England, women faced many difficulties to obtain social, economic, and educational rights that are equal to those of men. This paper is dedicated to the examination of the social position of Victorian women because although this issue is referred to superficially in many articles, few articles handle the subject thoroughly. Hereby, the paper aims to engage in a scrutinized study of the issue on two novels of the period both of which provide fruitful and clear examples to the object of the study.