Expressions // Idolatry in Paradise Lost
Milton wrote Paradise Lost in 1667, and, as with much of his prose, it is driven by what has been referred to as an ‘obsession with idolatry.’ Idolatry had long been an accusation levelled at Catholic worship by Protestants, but in the eyes of Milton and other nonconformists it was also becoming increasingly associated with the Church of England, first under the direction of Archbishop William Laud before his execution in the English Civil War, and then under the Uniformity Act of 1662, following the restoration of the monarchy and the accession of Charles II.
Impressions // The Story of a Modern Woman by Ella Hepworth Dixon
‘All we modern women mean to help each other now.’
If I were rich enough to buy a million copies of this book and devote the rest of my life to leaving them scattered across tube station platforms, park benches and shopping centres à la Emma Watson, I would. Dixon’s text has, for reasons that utterly elude me, spent the best part of the past century out of mainstream print and has been republished only relatively recently, in this fantastic Broadview edition, which contains a thorough grounding in the context of the ‘New Woman’ phenomenon by way of Steve Farmer’s brilliant introduction, as well as a collection of reviews and essays from contemporary publications at the close. My first encounter with this novel actually took place just over a year ago as part of a postgraduate class focusing on the Victorian Bildungsroman. For this reason I should probably take a moment to express my gratitude to my university’s English department for introducing me to the novel which took just a few pages to become one of my all-time favourites.
Expressions // Thoughts on feminism in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea
I was originally going to write a piece about Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel entitled ‘Why Jane Eyre will always be relevant’ but upon reflection decided that such an effort would not exactly be futile, but, well, frankly unnecessary. That Jane Eyre is still taught to students from KS4 right up to postgraduate level, that it is still pitched to film executives for ever more adaptations, that figures like the brooding Rochester, and ‘plain’ Jane have each entered our collective consciousness, enshrined among the greatest symbols of our literary heritage, that the literature tags of Tumblr and Instagram are utterly saturated with photographs of stylised quotes from Jane’s great ‘I am no bird’ speech, this – all of this – renders completely redundant the task of attempting to account for, or justify the text’s endurance. The novel can, and will, speak for itself, as it has for generations.