Femininity under construction: traditional femininity and the new woman in Victorian fiction
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The Victorian period was an incredibly volatile time for the issues of women and work. The population imbalance between men and women meant that many middle-class women would not be able to marry and instead were forced to rely on work for financial support. This paper explores the entry of middle-class women into the working world and the way in which traditional femininity became incorporated into the concept of the working woman. As the period progressed, and new types of labour became available to women, representations of the working woman changed and the image of the New Woman emerged. Fictional representations of women and work in the Victorian period reveal a tense struggle to blend traditional idealism with a newer, more modern type of femininity.