Plain and Ugly Janes: the Rise of the Ugly Woman in Contemporary American Fiction

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Description

Women characters in American literature of the nineteenth century form an overwhelmingly lovely group, but a search through some of the overlooked works reveals a thin but discernible thread of plain, even homely, heroines. Most of these fall into the stereotypical "old maid" category, and, like their real-life counterparts, these "undesirable" women are considered failures, even if they have money or satisfying careers, because they do not have boyfriends, husbands, or children. During the twentieth century, the old maid figure develops into someone not just homely, but downright ugly; in addition, the number of these characters increases, especially in the ... continued below

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vii, 191 leaves

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Wright, Charlotte M. August 1994.

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  • Wright, Charlotte M.

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Description

Women characters in American literature of the nineteenth century form an overwhelmingly lovely group, but a search through some of the overlooked works reveals a thin but discernible thread of plain, even homely, heroines. Most of these fall into the stereotypical "old maid" category, and, like their real-life counterparts, these "undesirable" women are considered failures, even if they have money or satisfying careers, because they do not have boyfriends, husbands, or children. During the twentieth century, the old maid figure develops into someone not just homely, but downright ugly; in addition, the number of these characters increases, especially in the latter half of the century. In many works written since the 1960s, the woman's ugliness is such an intrinsic part of the story that it could not take place if she were beautiful. In subtle ways, these "ugly woman" stories begin to question the overwhelming value placed on beauty, to question the narrow definition of beauty in American society as a whole, and to suggest that the price for such a "blessing" might indeed be too high. Rather than settling for being a mere "heroine"—which still carries feminine connotations of passive behavior and second-class status—the ugly woman's increase in power over her own life and the lives of others, allows her to achieve a status more in keeping with the more "masculine" and active role of hero.

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vii, 191 leaves

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  • Call Number: 379 N81d no.4008
  • UNT Catalog No.: Wright, Charlotte M. | External Link
  • Accession or Local Control No: 1002720778-wright
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc278032

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  • August 1994

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  • March 24, 2014, 8:07 p.m.

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  • Nov. 18, 2014, 11:24 a.m.

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Citations, Rights, Re-Use

Wright, Charlotte M. Plain and Ugly Janes: the Rise of the Ugly Woman in Contemporary American Fiction, dissertation, August 1994; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc278032/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .