Female Innocence and Violence in Literature

'For maximum literary impact, sensationalism and violence have to be juxtaposed with female innocence and vulnerability'. Discuss with mention of the 'Tale of Two Places' by Charles Dickens and 'The Girl in White' by Wilkie Collins.

The title quote is probably too fixed. Generally, there can be no such prescriptive options for writing books, however, there is certainly evidence showing that when contradicting qualities or ideas are shown in close proximity, the intensity of the situation is heightened. Milton used this system in Heaven Lost - assembling a clear-cut world comprised completely of polar opposites and without ambivalence or moral middle surface. Hence in Milton, every physical or mental property is in effect generated and defined by the lack of its reverse counterpart. So darkness is the complete absence of light, and evil is the complete lack of good etc. Dickens' and Collins' use of juxtaposition in their books is more reticent than Milton though with an identical intent and obvious immediately in the starting passage of a 'Story of Two Towns': "It had been the best of that time period it was the most severe of times. . . in other words, the time was so far like today's period, that some of its noisiest regulators insisted on its being received, once and for all or for bad, in the superlative degree of contrast only. " The quotation is also an admission on behalf the type of the book itself and it is with this 'superlative degree of comparison' that people will be made to receive a lot of the incidents that unfold, and find out along the way that no such fixed model can properly exhibit human nature which is all too often ambiguous or prone to change.

Both authors were aware that their books were to be posted as serialisations and so there was a very real need to keep the reader's interest between chapters. It really is perhaps with this concern in mind that the creators penned their moderate heroes into lurid depictions of violence and human brutality because the jarring of good and evil makes for shocking subject material and invariably what is shocking is also powerful. With Dickens' novel as with Collins' the real dramatic tension is created by placing female champions of goodness and temperance within a masculine context of immorality and violence. As well as the perceived difference between innocence and guilt, frailty and brutality, patience and impulsion, gleam subtle contrast between an internal world and an exterior one. An environment of the soul, which is implicit and inherently good, and a world of the physical or your body which is explicit and outwardly evil. In both books, the vocabulary separates in a similar way - outwardly visual and sensational, yet with a subtle and often more powerful subtext. The text messages of both books are founded incompatible and perpetuate a feeling of tension so it acts us well to do close readings of a brief passage just as much as a synopsis of the whole.

We shall take first this passage from Wilkie Collins' 'The Woman in White'

"The boat-house was large enough to carry people, but Sir Percival continued to be outside trimming the last new stick with his pocket-axe. We three women found a lot of room on the large seat. Laura took her work and Madame Fosco commenced her smokes. I, as usual had nothing to do. My hands always were and always will be as awkard as a man's. The Matter good humouredly needed a stool many sizes too small for him, and well balanced himself on it with his back against the medial side of the shed, which creaked and groaned under his weight. He place the pagoda cage on his lap, and discrete the mice to crawl over him as typical. They are very innocent-looking little creatures, but the eyesight of them creeping about a man's person is for reasons uknown not pleasant to me. It excites a peculiar responsive creeping in my own nerves and suggests hideous ideas of men dying in jail with the crawling creatures of the dungeon preying about them undisturbed. "

Marian's narration starts as 'matter of reality' and becomes imagined and complex. From the start of the passing to the end her attention is drawn from items and characters a long way away from her, nearer directly into those bordering her, then to her own personal and identity, and lastly the introspective and private thoughts of her own head. The first sentence raises the thought of another world of assault lying outdoors Marian's own. She illustrates Sir Percival's decision to remain 'outdoors' regardless of the boat-house being 'large enough to carry us all' so she could be implying an obstinacy in his actions or perhaps much more likely, she may be perplexed by his behaviour. The action of trimming a stick with a pocket axe provides various connotations with assault and masculine sexuality. It really is of course an arbitrary occupation of his time and assists as a meaningless and almost sinister approach to disconnection between himself and others and hence a source of misunderstandings. Marian's next comment 'We three women', at once it unites the women together as a thought or a quality of femininity and additional separates them from the singular personality of Sir Percival. Marian's words is deeply characterised by ideas of containment. The females sit inside and they're easily accommodated: 'we three women found plenty of room on the top chair'. This assertion contrasts immediately with her comment about the Matter a little later, who 'had taken excrement many sizes too small for him, and balanced himself onto it with his back against the medial side of the shed, which creaked and groaned under his weight' - a phrase which trails on for longer, more involved and uncomfortable. The Count up and Sir Percival, by their troublesome inflexibility, rebel against and test the physical world. Their existence is more palpable and harder to contain unlike the women who are compliant, slight and ensconced by the physical world. This entire image is a dilution of the brand new world as emasculated, savage and violent - the pot and oppressor of feminine goodness.

As we have seen the direction of Marian's thought is inward but her terms and the utilization of symbolism give an added recommendation of moving from an wide open, free space, to a limited, interior space. Initially Marian uses words like 'outdoors' and phrases such as 'a great deal of room' but her train of thought surface finishes in representation on 'Pagoda Cages', on 'prison' and 'the dungeon'. Herein lies the horror for Marian. Her words is the vocabulary of oppression and confinement: 'My hands always were and always will be as awkward as your. ' Her use of the expression 'always were and always will be' excludes all sense of expectation and the awkwardness of the repetition is emblematic of her bitterness and resent of the awkwardness of her situation. Her use of the term uncomfortable itself is interesting, used the maximum amount of no doubt as the implied contrary of delicate or relaxed and the complete image of a woman being burdened with the tools of man's assault towards the world is a powerful one.

The switch in Marian's observation of mice running freely above the Count's person, with an imagined picture of rats crawling more than a morbid prisoner is a much more tangible illustration of frailty and innocence enjoyed against sensational horror. The true power of the written text here lies in the compression of your quaint image into a one which repulses. But further it suggests there is a macabre bent in Marian or an inclination of thought towards something deeper and darker than her reality. Could it be that she relates with both images - the 'pretty-innocent looking creatures (my italics)', how she and women appear to be, or should aspire to become, and 'men dying in jail with the crawling animals of the dungeon preying with them undisturbed', how she and other really feel?

We will transform now to the next passage from the previous section of Dickens' 'A Story of Two Towns'

'The second tumbril empties and moves on: the 3rd arises. Crash! - Plus the knitting-women, never faltering or pausing in their work, matter two.

The meant Evremonde descends, and the seamstress is raised out next after him. He has not relinquished her patient hand in getting out, but nonetheless retains it as he guaranteed. He gently places her with her back to the crashing engine motor that constantly whirs up and falls, and she checks his face and thanks him.

"But for you dear stranger, I will not be so made up, for I am normally an unhealthy little thing, faint of heart and soul; nor should I have had the opportunity to improve my thoughts to Him who was simply put to loss of life, that we might have wish and comfort here to-day. I believe you were delivered to me by Heaven". . .

The two stand in the fast-thinning throng of victims, nevertheless they speak as though they were by themselves. Eye to eyesight, voice to tone, hand at hand, heart to heart, these two children of the Universal Mother, else so large apart and various, have come jointly on the dark highway, to correct home together, and also to relax in her bosom. '

Dickens' tale is related in the 3rd person and there is consequently less room for personal introspection, the like we found in Marian's narration (although Dicken's does indeed dispense with this convention to allow a speech to Carton's final thoughts within the last lines). However, Dickens' presents a far more sensational information of the world outside his heroes. The beginning of the passage here imparts a feeling of horror by the alarming regularity and routine of the public execution. The relentless getting rid of punctuated constantly by the knitting women as they count to the heroes' loss of life. Throughout this passing, Dickens offsets the exterior world of movement and with the inside capsule of calm between Carton and the tragic seamstress. The terms of impending doom - 'empties and steps on', 'never faltering or pausing', 'the crashing engine that constantly whirs up and falls', and the 'fast-thinning throng of victims', is juxtaposed with dialect of stillness, timelessness and calmness - 'not relinquished' 'her patient palm', 'still supports', 'so composed' 'stand together'. Evident in this passage is a contradiction between the real life of horror and the equipment of assault, and the seamstress' admission of her own vulnerability - 'I am naturally an unhealthy little thing, faint of center'. But where in earlier parts of the novel this opposition was played out with the effect of crushing feminine innocence and creating suspense and horror as a result, at this point the woman discovers power in her company. Actually the agreement of her affirmation backs this up idea. 'But for you dear stranger', and 'my thoughts to Him' surround her admission 'I am normally an unhealthy little thing' - she takes comfort between these objects. They encircle her and protect her from the brutality of the outside world.

In this shutting section of the novel, when finally the fragility of feminine innocence collides with the horror and mechanics of the revolution, Dickens actually draws a crucial separation between your two concepts. United in love, the protagonists fall away from the physical world - the guillotine a machine which by designs slices people in two: 'The two stand in the fast thinning throng of patients, nonetheless they speak as if they were exclusively'. In this particular final point of the novel - the characters break free using their context. In fact, Dickens uses different paragraphs to spell it out the human occasions and nov the tumbril blade as though the exterior influences haven't any control over the characters. 'Eye to eye, voice to voice, side to hand, center to center, ' where the book has been an exploration of pairs of opposites, the best of times, and the worst of times, it champions as it denouement pairs of equals and connection rather than debate. The passage unites two ideas into one, so 'The two stand' become in change 'they speak'. Though they can be 'two children', they can be born of 1 'Universal Mom', and though 'so huge apart' they may have 'come mutually'.

What is important here, is the fact Dickens has chosen to make a different literary result at the end of his novel from that layed out in the subject, by a confrontation of equals somewhat than opposites. It may show that the collision of brutality and compassion work to create surprise and suspense during reading but it has been one motivation that a reader persists through these occasions which is to attain a fitting tranquility.

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