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Old 01-10-2008, 10:02 PM   #1
Patricia
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Gaskell, Elizabeth: Ruth, v.1, 11Jan 2008.

Ruth is an orphaned dressmaker’s apprentice, only sixteen years old. She is seduced by a ‘gentleman’ and finds herself abandoned and pregnant. Is there any way that she can rehabilitate herself in the eyes of society? Can her child ever achieve any social standing?

Written in 1853, this was considered a brave and controversial topic for a novelist (especially a woman novelist). Male novelists tended to allow only three outcomes for ‘fallen women’: death, prostitution or emigration (cf Em’ly in Dickens’s ‘David Copperfield’). Mrs Gaskell’s redemption via maternal love is something new; though you may think that she gets cold feet towards the end of the novel.
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