Role of Women in British Literature | Essay Example

Early British literature often portrayed women as objects of sexual desire, beauty, which are owned and do not have worth more than that. Therefore, it is unpopular to find a work of literature that gives a woman an equal status to a man. Nevertheless, in most works of British literature, female figures have dominated the role of consumption of art, as well as collection and construction of narrative.

In the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, Mina plays a significant role in constructing the narrative. Mina plays the role of a Victorian woman, in which she is dutiful and a model of domestic propriety because she follows the roles and obligations bestowed upon women in the Victorian society such as maintaining purity and supporting one’s husband through thick and thin (Stoker, 2000). Similarly, in the poem My Last Duchess, Brownings makes his late wife the center of the literary piece. However, he is not happy that his late wife used to smile and flirt at everyone, and due to jealousy, he shut her up. In addition, only he can draw the curtain covering her portrait on the wall showing her lovely smile (Browning, 1991, p.157). This is an example of the portrayal of objectification of women because the Duke felt that the Duchess was her property, and thus, she should have not been smiling with anyone apart from him (Allingham, 2012). Moreover, he preserves her smile in a portrait so that he can have her and the smile to himself. Finally, Belinda in The Rape of Lock also assumes a significant character in the construction of the narrative. The author uses Belinda to satire and humor the value of women in the aristocratic society, and he added, marginalizes and disregards them (Pope, 2006, p.455). He portrays the rituals of womanhood negatively and offensively that symbolize the widespread view on women in the society.

Evidently, women play a central role in the collection and construction of British literature, which normally focuses on objectification and marginalization of women in society.


Allingham, P. V. (2012, May 15). Applying Modern Critical Theory to Robert Brownings “My Last Duchess”.
Browning, R. (1991). The Poems of Browning: 1841–1846. Pearson Education.
Pope, A. (2006). The Rape of the Lock. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, 443–456.
Stoker, B. (2000). Dracula . Dover Publications.