Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/28931
This essay explores the status of women and their pursuit of freedom from the control of men in Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. Faber’s story is a part of the neo-Victorian genre, which is discussed in some detail in chapter two. Neo-Victorian writers, unlike their predecessors of the nineteenth century, are free to explore explicit subjects, such as prostitution, without holding back which is exactly what Faber does in his novel. He also brings the lives of women into the spotlight. The neo-Victorian element of The Crimson Petal and the White is obvious in his portrayal of Victorian women.
To ensure a deeper understanding of the Victorian world as created by Faber, women’s status in nineteenth century England is also touched upon. Furthermore, the idea of the spheres, which separates the genders into the domestic sphere and the public sphere, as well as their education and mental abilities, is examined, which highlights the patriarchal control over women. The discussion on Victorian women ends with a brief examination of the emerging fight for equality which ties in with the fate of Faber’s female characters.
The subject of this essay is the female characters of The Crimson Petal and the White: Sugar, Agnes and Sophie, and their positions within the male-dominated society of Victorian London. The part of the essay which focuses on the female characters is divided into three chapters, and each highlights aspects the lives of Sugar, Agnes and Sophie and how they escaped Faber’s patriarchal society. The essay discusses how Sugar, the novel’s female protagonist, is first introduced as a prostitute that by the end of the novel ends up being a feminist heroine and the saviour of both Agnes and Sophie. The fate of Sophie is also discussed, which further accentuates Sugar’s feminist legacy.