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Gilbert and Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic After …
It took about a century for the angel in the house to join forces with the madwoman in the attic. According to Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, even when this angel occupied the foreground in nineteenth century novels, she was shadowed by her dark twin. Beneath the placid brook, the turbulent whirlpool churned. This split image had a long history in romance, and a famous nineteenth century version in Thackeray's bitter picture of Becky Sharp as a 'fiendish marine cannibal' towards the end of Vanity Fair. But Gilbert and Gubar were the first to unite the angel and the madwoman in a single being, applaud her expressive transgressions, and identify her with the woman writer. When the monster-woman rose from the depths to the attic, mostly because Charlotte Brontë had located her there in the novel that gave Gilbert and Gubar their title and provided 'a paradigm of many distinctively female anxieties and abilities' (p. xii), she staked a new claim to her legitimate share of the house of fiction.
But no matter what negative feedback has been aimed this book's way, there is no denying that Madwoman changed literary criticism forever. Particularly, scholarship on , , and , , , , and will never be the same. We worry that Second Wave Feminism may not have infiltrated literary studies if it weren't for Gilbert and Gubar's sweeping tome.
Free The Madwoman in the Attic Essays and Papers
Sandra Gilbert writes in The Madwoman in the Attic that literature is defined as a mirror held up to society and nature, "the mimetic aesthetic that begins with Aristotle and descends through Shakespeare implies that the poet, like a lesser God, has made or engendered an alternative, mirror-universe in which he actually seems to...
Madwoman in the Attic was immediately a popular as well as an academic success. In the United States it was a runner-up for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It sold widely and held out the hope, however briefly, that there was an audience outside the academy for literary criticism of the sort that academic rather than trade presses publish. Its unusual success has to be understood in relation to the time of its publication, especially in the United States, as well as to its method. Women (and men) were beginning to be seen as differently gendered, with differently socialised experiences and [End Page 265] different cultural contexts for reading and writing. For a large number of readers, Gilbert and Gubar's account of how nineteenth-century women's writing had been shaped by 'gender strife' brought the emergence of gender as a category of analysis to full consciousness. Moreover, Madwoman in the Attic represented women writers as...
Gilbert and Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic after …
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