By Emelyne Godfrey (auth.)
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Extra resources for Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society: From Dagger-Fans to Suffragettes
15 A knowledge of the art of reading people came to be considered a useful piece of kit, 40 Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society along with a mirror or a comb in a lady’s bag. 16 Although Plowden cautions that ‘nothing can mislead like the human countenance’, he nevertheless advises that ‘the mouth is perhaps the most expressive feature, and the hands of a liar are seldom at rest’ while ‘abnormal ears’ are ‘significant’. , pp. 225–226). In Danaus a man’s propensity to harm or to be indifferent to suffering can be read in his style of walking.
As he begins to formulate a plan, he ‘stare[s] at her, trying to guess at the mystery of her thoughts’ (Ann Veronica, p. 195). As this glimpse into his character suggests, the power of the male gaze is limited because although, as far as he is concerned, he has paid for Ann Veronica’s company that evening, he cannot purchase her mind. 20 Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society Dinah Mulock Craik, the celebrated author of the self-help novel, John Halifax, Gentleman (1856) discussed non-corporeal protection.
Viola’s passionate emotions are constantly suppressed by the religious dictates of her mother, Marion Sedley, a pathetic martyr to the cause of wifely duty. She silently suffers the demands of her husband, Richard, who believes that an unmarried woman is ‘a cumberer of the ground’, a phrase which is used in such a context in Tenant of Wildfell Hall and also in Robins’s Convert, in which the unmarried Vida Levering describes herself to her half-sister as ‘a mere cumberer of the earth’ (Convert, p.