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By Jeannette King (auth.)

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Additional info for Discourses of Ageing in Fiction and Feminism: The Invisible Woman

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100), an identity separate from that of ‘old woman’. He is critical, however, of those spinsters who have chosen to remain unmarried rather than marry a social inferior. Using Cranford to illustrate his case, he cites Deborah Jenkyns’ intervention to prevent Miss Matty’s marriage, because she ‘could not submit to the degradation of a brother-in-law who called himself yeoman’ (p. 96), and argues that Gaskell treats such ‘scruples’ with ‘tender ridicule’. But Matty’s case resists Hamley’s categorisation as this ‘choice’ has in effect been forced upon her.

As indicated above, older women were visible and prominent in the increasingly militant suffragette movement, and periodicals associated with the movement began to publish defences of the older woman. ’23 However, her hope of counselling the young was undermined by a body of fiction that installed old and young in oppositional roles. In New Woman fiction, we are more likely to find the generations in conflict, rather than achieving anything approximating to sisterhood. Judging by much of the writing of the period, younger women were as likely to be influenced by negative images of the old as by a writer like Cobbe.

Her ‘hard, decisive expression’ (p. 85) is indicative of a character closer to masculine stereotypes. She shows a ‘sound judgment in legal matters’, and an interest in business not expected of women, and her ‘quick penetration’ is reflected in her ‘penetrating eyes’ (pp. 88, 180). Her ‘eye’ is also described as ‘sharp’, as is her tongue (p. 103), so that the image presented is both rebarbative and disturbingly phallic. The motivation Wood provides for Corny owes much to contemporary social commentators.

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