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Like Water For Chocolate

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Showalter finds in each subculture, and thus in women's literature, first a long period of imitation of the dominant structures of tradition and an "internalization of its standards of art an its views on social roles." This Feminine phase includes women writers such as the Brontлs, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Florence Nightingale, and the later generation of Charlotte Yonge, Dinah Mulock Craik, Margaret Oliphant, and Elizabeth Lynn Linton. These women attempted to integrate themselves into a public sphere, a male tradition, and many of them felt a conflict of "obedience and resistance" which appears in many of their novels. Oddly enough, during the Victorian period, women flooded the novel market and comprised a healthy segment of the reading public -- still, women writers were left "metaphorically paralyzed." The language with which they could fully express their experience as women and their sufferings as they still identified themselves within the confines of Victorian bourgeois propriety.

In the second stage, the minority -- or rather, the subordinate -- lashes out against the traditional standards and values, demanding their rights and sovereignty be recognized. In this Feminist phase, women's literature had varying angles of attack. Some women wrote social commentaries, translating their own sufferings to those of the poor, the laboring class, slaves, and prostitutes, thereby venting their sense of injustice in an acceptable manner. They expanded their sphere of influence by making inroads into social work. In a completely different direction, the 1870s sensation novels of Mary Braddon, Rhoda Broughton, and Florence Marryat, "explored genuinely radical female protest against marriage and women's economic oppression, although still in the framework of feminine conventions that demanded the erring heroine's destruction." Their golden-haired doll-like paradigms of womanhood mock contemporary expectations of Angels in the House by turning out to be mad bigamists and would-be murderesses.

Militant suffragists also wrote prolifically during this protest phase of literature. Women such as Sarah Grand, George Egerton, Mona Caird, Elizabeth Robins, and Olive Schreiner made "fiction the vehicle for a dramatization of wronged womanhood... demand[ing] changes in the social and political systems that would grant women male privileges and require chastity and fidelity from men." On the whole, Showalter finds these women's writings not examples of fine literature. Their projects concerned themselves more with a message than the creation of art, though their rejection of male-imposed definitions and self-imposed oppression opened the doors for the

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