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Faculty Mentors

Dr. Eustace Palmer

Abstract

It has been (and will continue to be) argued that authors always portray characters of their own sex in a more complete way. It is because of this, and well-known facts about the time period during which he wrote, that Charles Dickens is rarely considered a feminist writer. George Eliot, who wrote in nearly the same time period, is often lauded as an exemplary feminist writer. But through his characterization of Miss Havisham and Estella in Great Expectations, Dickens shows himself to be more than equal to Eliot in that field of writing. Her own Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on The Floss has often been cited as an example of a feminist character, but under closer scrutiny appears only to conform to social norms of the time period, albeit in a noble manner. She is not a fully developed personality. Miss Havisham and Estella may be the more despicable, and distinctly less likeable characters, but they are also unquestionably more fully rounded, and therefore more capable of truly being called feminist characters.

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