Female Roles in a Marriage and Stages of Self-Realization in The Yellow Wallpaper

51FwYPCDuzL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_“There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.” – Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour

The nineteenth century was notoriously seen as the era of family confinement; novels sprouting around that time were always about crimes committed by heroines in flights of passion within a psycho-medical confinement construed by male villains in a marriage. The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman ponders various issues of its contemporaries. Through the eyes of a no-name heroine being ensconced in the sickroom by her physician-husband John, this story portrays a woman’s role in a marriage and satirically illustrates her impressionable disposition as seen in the case that the yellow wallpaper step by step acts as the medium to trigger narrator’s awareness of her role in an ill-assorted matrimony.

In its first stage of the most outer layer, the story first begins with the fairest scenes – a suburban colonial mansion. The grandeur of “ancestral halls, a hereditary estate” and “a delicious garden” all remind the heroine of English prim and prude and instill typical romantic prestige belonging to an upper-middle class couple.

After that, we are introduced to John through the eyes of narrator. John represents an authoritative figure of a patriarchal commander. As a physician-cum-husband, he laughs at the wife’s instinctive superstitions, indicates her temporary nervous breakdown as emotional temperament which is habitual “manner of excited fancies”, and too weak-minded to exert self-control in defense of foolish imaginations. “There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?” Assertive in his grounds of reasons and practicalities, John applies a “rest-cure” – the single patient is “forbidden to work” but only increases her sense of isolation. Ironically, the wife is assigned to once-a-nursery room at the attic as in affirming that John treats her like a child in the matrimonial roles. “[D]ear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head.” He calls her “a blessed little goose” when appeasing her whining and sobbing behavior, looks at her with such “a stern, reproachful look” once she starts making unreasonable excuses. On the other hand, the heroine has an inferiority complex of an acquiescent nature. “I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more.” The wife admits herself “dreadfully fretful and querulous”), places her husband on the pedestal and conveys subordinating attitudes filled with tentativeness, uses words like “perhaps”, “personally” in demeaning her own opinions. It is expected even by the wife herself that she should be complying with her husband’s wishes.

However, as the layer being unveiled one by one, the interior acts as the wife’s latent accomplice against the husband’s tyranny and topple over her peripheral relationship with John. Once entering into the “sickroom”, windows sheathed with bars and an immovable bedstead echo the solitary confinement likening to a penal cell or, as prevalently seen in England, a private asylum which was operated by physicians in the nineteenth century. Convalescing in ill-used and long-neglected room of solitude, the narrator is enshrouded in a spatial confinement which gradually exposes the inner soul and vice of the marriage in various aspects.

As the story proceeds, she devises more time and exhaustible energy in watching, touching, and smelling the yellow wallpaper. “One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.”  She describes the florid arabesque pattern as “dull”, “confusing”, “constantly irritates and provokes study”, and being destructive to make one suicidal in its optical illusion. She also further illustrates the tainted yellow as “repellent” and “revolting”. In this case, she flouts the conventional idea in the figurative art that is wildly admired in the Islamic world. In the early centuries, this Arabic embellishments were seen intertwining and interweaving with rhythmic patterns thereby attributing to God’s grace and reign of “justice, compassion, power, mercy, knowledge, and love” beyond humans’ imaginations; its ethereal infinity in light and shade was appreciated compared with the materialistic world. In contrast, the patterns of the yellow wallpaper transform into an ever-changing stereograms that she keeps staring, assessing and examining. From vision to her point of view, it is a blasphemy that the wife is subconsciously re-evaluating bit by bit her roles and identity in the marriage, and begins defying her high-standing physician-husband’s power as the “Almighty God of the Home”.

In continuous stages, the narrator is deprived of social interaction with the outside world as being stuck in the “atrocious nursery”. Her husband is away all the time in town with “reasonable” ground, dismisses her imploring needs without much consideration and calls her “a blessed little goose”. During that daytime in solitude as being forsaken all her maternal duties, she unremittingly observes the vicious influence of the wallpaper, and identifies a recurrent spot where “the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes” which reminds of her childhood whim of pareidolia. Apart from that, she describes the pattern being in a state of tolerance with “perseverance as well as hatred”. (“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”) The yellow wallpaper’s “absurd, unblinking eyes” reflect the careful scrutiny from her husband and the housekeeper – John’s “perfect and enthusiastic” sister with no other better profession.

Later on, the haunting “smell” pervades the interior, it “creeps all over the house” and “gets into her hair”, it is caused by the smooches of the wallpaper on everything it touches as well as marking the progression of insanity. The heroine analyses that in the beginning the odor is gentle and subtly enduring but gradually it becomes so disturbing that the thoughts of burning the house emerged to reach the smell. In this case, it not only signifies the deteriorating state of relationship but also resonates with the “draught” in the beginning that John says before shutting the windows of his own accord. The smell of poisonous yellow smog, the unbearable “London peculiar” pervades tenants of the “English place” perturbingly.

Digging deeper into the wallpaper, she sees a sub-pattern that emerges to be “a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.” It initially conjures up a form of dim faint shape and gets brightening into a plain tangible womanly figure. In the end, the figure becomes her own self. “I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper.” The wife firstly intends to tighten a “well-hidden rope” to the woman in case she jumps out of the window but ends up tying herself in a hallucination. The doppelgänger signifies the reality of projection as being in controlled by her husband. During daylight (while John is away in town), the figure is dwelling in the “hideous”, “unreliable” and “infuriating” colour but “torturing” pattern, subdued, quiet. “I lie down ever so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can…Indeed he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after each meal.” At night (with her husband), the outside pattern becomes bars that the womanly figure fiercely shakes the wallpaper. The story culminates in narrator’s madness of tearing the wallpaper is a necessity of unleashing the wife’s liberation in body and soul. “‘I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!’” The ending is also being satirical as her husband gets his comeuppance with his founded beliefs about women’s values in treating his wife and his medical knowledge as a physician.

To conclude, the wife is secluded in the cage in a languid obscurity and tedium. Being withdrawn from her maternal and wifely duties, her solitude progresses into a monomania of closely reading the yellow wallpaper at different angles, which in the most extremity transfers her exhaustible energy into a ferocious power of rescuing herself from renunciation of her own individual identity. The Yellow Wallpaper is a progressive story which not only pictures the deteriorating state of mental health but also questions the domesticity and moral contemporary values of female covert versus female sole in stages of self-realization.


The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

from pinoyhk.org/

Would you be willing to immersed yourself in knowledge and forsaking the daily necessities? The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami would be an interesting book to explore this matter based on a more far-fetched plots and scenarios. The protagonist is a teenager who’s interested in topics concerning history and classical civilization. One day he gets to the library after school to enquire about books on tax collecting systems of Ottoman Empire, here he’s confined and enforced by library staff to recall verbatim the books in a month and to study them day and night, without contact with the outside world. The scary bit is that the library staff likes sucking fruity human brains – that boy really has no way out! On the other hand, would that be an enjoyable experience for the boy that he can finally shake off all his emotions of mortal feelings into devouring the knowledge of books attentively? It is for you to find out…

Matrimony of Prison Voices in Man and Wife (Wilkie Collins – again…)

Wilkie CollinsWilkie Collins, one of the most prominent authors of sensation fiction, neatly crocheted a profound secret under the veneer of hospitable roofs and fairest scenes next-door. Characters were intrigued by a household devil of “Curiosity” that incessantly prompted innumerable crises, duplicity, and questions of identities to unveil the mystery. “Providence” was found at the start; and consequences arising from these could only be confronted by courage, patience, and quick wit to tempt it. Manuscripts of confessions, or forms of “epistolary writing” as in Wilkie Collins’s signature hallmark filled the stories. These serialised works or three-deckers cumulatively sparkled with law, psychoanalysis, occult, medical, scientific and unorthodox researches, which ensnared readers dwelling with sensation to “probe the most probable in the midst of improbability”.

“This time the fiction is founded on facts, and aspires to afford what help it may towards hastening the reform of certain abuses which have been too long suffered to exist among us unchecked.” Compared to The Moonstone (1868) which was critically acclaimed as the “most sensational, most thrilling and most ingenious” work alongside The Woman in White (1860); Man and Wife (1870) signaled a dichotomy to previous novels published in 1860s by Wilkie Collins. It swarmed with more missionary and didactic purposes, that tendrils were actively sprawling towards social questions and moral grounds than ever, and “tracing the influence of circumstances upon characters”. Considering Man and Wife, not only it poses social questions on Muscular Christianity and demoralization over intellectual cultivation through creation of Geoffrey Delmayn, but also examines poignant matrimony and notions of femme covert with respect of indisputable laws in Victorian Britain. “Done, in the name of Morality. Done, in the interests of Virtue. Done, in an age of progress, and under the most prefect government on the face of the earth.” This essay is to bring out the resonances of incarceration based on psycho-medical and theatrical aspects attributable to marriages based on two female characters in Man and Wife, namely, Hester Dethridge and Anne Silvester.

Criticisms of deep-rooted marriage laws were Wilkie Collins’s public domain. The court case of “criminal conversation” of Caroline Norton in 1836 followed by her campaign for marriage reforms, and Effie Gray’s annulment of marriage to John Ruskin in 1854 were subjects of concerns at the time. Concerning Hester Dethridge’s case, her “violence of temper”, acts of impulsiveness and excitable rampage found in contemporary female convicts was attributable to Property Law.

You are a married woman. The law doesn’t allow a married woman to call anything her own […] Your husband has a right to sell your furniture if he likes. I am sorry for you; I can’t hinder him.

Why didn’t I have him locked up? What was the good of having him locked up? In a few weeks he would be out of prison; sober and penitent, and promising amendment – and then when the fit took him, there he would be, the same furious savage that he had been often and often before […]  About this time I began to say to myself, ‘There’s no deliverance from this, but in death – his death or mine.

Crime in passion for escapism against passivity and victimhood was Hester Dethridge’s only solution. As a Primitive Methodist, she had “unutterable dread” of “Avenging Providence” than “Human Justice”. As the respective authorities and neighbourhood were unable to find any loopholes of the murder, Hester Dethridge, in autonomy and authority, “requested privileges to have a room by herself” and “sleep always with a locked door” when enlisted in a domestic service, echoes the contemporary penal act of “separate system” in imprisoning herself. It was a solitary confinement combined with Christian Biblical education imported to Britain crossly fertilised by systems of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in 1830s, emphasizing a penal servitude of “silencing and isolating convicts for long hours in his own cell to commune with his conscience”, and supposed to be a more “humanitarian” imprisonment. Pentonville Penitentiary (1842) and Millbank Prison (started from 1850s) in London first adopted separate system accordingly. Hester Dethridge’s inexplicable and paralyzing mutism, stolid deportment of “immovable endurance”, countenance of “sunken eyes and stricken face with deathlike tranquility” were punishments to herself in order to achieve “moral regeneration” as well as to comply with social conventions of womanly virtues – deprivation and indignity – in cure of “violence of temper” committed in the crime.

However, as stated in The Law and the Lady (1875) that “women are infinitely superior to men in the moral qualities are the true adornments of humanity”, penal abodes “exhibited the coarsest and rudest moral features” comparable to entities who usually regarded as “the most grateful and gentle form of humanity”. In fact, despite psycho-medical inculcation of domesticity reformation in prisons, crimes committed by most Mid-Victorian women were consequences of negligence, vicious association with men and low-waged living amidst enforcement of Industrial Revolution. When hard labour in men’s prisons were replaced by seclusion and sedentary confinement, women convicts were more often subject to self-infliction and insanity. In Hester Dethridge’s case, she was uncontrollably distorted with a form of delusion.

The Thing stole out, dark and shadowy in the pleasant sunlight. At first I saw only the dim figure of a woman. After a little it began to get plainer, brightening from within outward – brightening, brightening, brightening, till it set before me the vision of MY OWN SELF, repeated as if I was standing before a glass – the double of myself, looking at me with my own eyes. I saw it move over the grass. I saw it stop behind the beautiful little boy. I saw it stand and listen, as I had stood and listened at the dawn of morning, for the chiming of the bell before the clock struck the hour. When it heard the stroke it pointed down to the boy with my own hand; and it said to me, with my own voice, ‘Kill him.’


Doppelgänger (double entities) was one of Wilkie Collins’s signature rhetorical devices. After the murder, Hester Dethridge first saw “her own self” when sitting on a bench and watching a small boy playing with new toys of a horse and wagon; and twice she saw it stealing behind Geoffrey’s back. This image of herself was subconsciously more overwhelming than “human justice” that signifies symbols of the defiance against penal servitude towards “moral regeneration” and social conventions of “docility” as redemption from the sin of strangling her husband.

Concerning Anne Silvester’s nuptial case, it was the infamous and irregular Scotch law of marriage which she fought to claim Geoffrey Delmayn as her husband based on letters as evidence on hand, but done in reasons of an antithesis – virtues of pride and sacrifice – to save her friend’s welfare. When the “trial” ended, it was only left in “blank stillness” and “deadly cold of horror”, which prophesized her tribulations of confinement.

Married – to the villain who had not hesitated to calumniate the woman whom he had ruined, and then to cast her helpless on the world. Married – to the traitor who had not shrunk from betraying Arnold’s trust in him, and desolating Arnold’s home. Married – to the ruffian who would have struck her that morning, if the hands of his own friends had not held him back.

It was the relationship produced on rational grounds without human infallibility of love as the guide. Hindering Geoffrey Delmayn married to the wealthy young widow named Mrs. Glenarm, the acknowledgement of marriage was Anne’s crime in husband’s eyes and thus confined in a cottage in Fulham which belonged to Hester Dethridge, inherited from her brother. The cottage with the garden which was surrounded by dismal and hideous “high walls” suggestive of an asylum or a prison. As regards the interior, her bedroom was “scrupulously clean”, “solidly and tastelessly furnished”; partition wall was only decorated with a wash-hand-stand and two chairs. The mechanism of defence was also suggestive of a prison cell’s. Lock and key were applied to the bedroom door, bolts fastened from top to bottom; “alarm-bells” and “belfry” were attached. Window and shutters were “solidly sheathed with iron”, lacking with light admitted to the room. They were the theatrical settings which symbolized penal confinement. “The one way out of the high walls all round the cottage locked. Friends forbidden to see her. Solitary imprisonment, with her husband for a jailer.” Her husband treated her as a property, letters were censored, and the garden was only her “exercise yard”.

In Man and Wife, Wilkie Collins registered the defectiveness in both contemporary marriage laws and penal confinement system. Hester Dethridge’s crime served as products of radical and momentous choices in the most desperate and despairing conditions against fate; marriages and the incorrigible social values were actual perpetrators of the murder. Resorting herself to methods of imprisonment, practice of contrition and “moral regeneration” were not redemption from sins but only resulted in insanity. As of Anne Silvester, “the call for irregular marriages” was the crime she was convicted of, and was the route to her abode of confinement. This novel indicates how contemporary marriage laws were the greatest devil influential to the cores of imprisonments.

Women are every where in this deplorable state

Mary_Wollstonecraft_by_John_Opie_(c._1797)“Women are every where in this deplorable state; for, in order to preserve their innocence, as ignorance is courteously termed, truth is hidden from them, and they are made to assume an artificial character before their faculties have acquired any strength. Taught from their infancy, that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and, roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison. Men have various employments and pursuits which engage their attention, and give a character to the opening mind; but women, confined to one, and having their thoughts constantly directed to the most insignificant part of themselves, seldom extend their views beyond the triumph of the hour. But was their understanding once emancipated from the slavery to which the pride and sensuality of man and their short sighted desire, like that of dominion in tyrants, of present sway, has subjected them, we should probably read of their weaknesses with surprise.” (Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759-1797)

Children’s Classics Revisited – Nobody’s Boy (1878) by Hector Malot

scan0001“Between these children and myself there was a vast difference. When they do anything foolish there is a hand stretched out, and they are picked up if they fall. If I fell I should go down, down, down, and I might not be able to pick myself up again. I was afraid. I knew the dangers that beset me.”

I used to read over and over again the same books when I was little and never got bored with them; for example, Heart by Edmondo De Amicis, and Heidi by Johanna Spyri. These classics were all hauled by my mother from bookshops and libraries and awarded to me when I had full marks in quizzes and language dictations. She’s not well-read but always had such an amusing taste in picking “the best cows which produced the finest quantity of milk (books in this case) without any prior knowledge of cattle” (including The Witches by Roald Dahl). I then had chances to cultivate notions on moral beauty of how to be a good human and also unleash my imaginations beyond the real world.


Nobody’s Boy (Sans Famille) by Hector Malot was one of my favourites books in childhood. I read the Chinese version and twenty years later the English version on Project Gutenberg (unfortunately it’s not available in my local library). Re-reading Nobody’s Boy not only arouses some of my childhood memories but also realises how benevolent and conscientious Hector Malot was regarding constructing plots for his novel. Coming back to this book I regard it a tribute and gratitude towards this fantastic author because he really understood children of his contemporaries, which is still relevant today in nurturing little ones’ minds and forever pursuing the ideal of justice, equality and beauty in them.

“I was a foundling. But until I was eight years of age I thought I had a mother like other children, for when I cried a woman held me tightly in her arms and rocked me gently until my tears stopped falling. I never got into bed without her coming to kiss me, and when the December winds blew the icy snow against the window panes, she would take my feet between her hands and warm them, while she sang to me.”

Nobody’s Boy is a story of self-actualisation. Setting the backdrop under the veneer of hospitable roof amidst a small village in France, Remi lived with his foster parents. Although poor, he was well-provided and treated comfortably by Mother Barberin until one day his foster-father, who was a bricklayer, came back from the city due to an accident at the construction site.

“I love that child, and he loves me. The apprenticeship in the life that I give him is good for him, better, far better, than he would have with you. You would give him an education, that is true; you would form his mind, but not his character. It is the hardships of life that alone can do that.”

Under straitened circumstances, Remi was sold to an enigmatic Italian strolling player named Vitalis and began the journey across France alongside other phenomenal performers – three dogs (Signor Capi, Zerbino, Miss Dulcie) and a pet monkey (Pretty-Heart) which Vitalis owned. The recounting of the story through Remi was moving. His sincerity came alive on paper teeming with optimism in withstanding trials and tribulations while earning their living each day through performances across different villages in France. He was abundant with reverence and respectability towards one another, lovely attributes which were inadvertently passed on by his master Vitalis and the animals along the incessant tramps through the wintry weather.


“We started early the next morning. The sky was blue and a light wind had come up in the night and dried all the mud. The birds were singing blithely in the trees and the dogs scampered around us. Now and again Capi stood up on his hind paws and barked into my face, two or three times. I knew what he meant. He was my friend. He was intelligent, and he understood every thing, and he knew how to make you understand. In his tail only was more wit and eloquence than in the tongue or in the eyes of many people.”

Among all, the relationships which induced my tears were the love and friendship that Remi had with Master Vitalis and Capi the white dog. Vitalis was a genteel character who was not in a high up social position but always presented with a gleam of gentility and nobility on the inside; his paternal love towards Remi was obscure yet his actions was loving; and Capi with other animals that performed with Remi could just be as affectionate and caring as humans.

“During our long tramps he gave me lessons, first on one subject then on another. On very cold days he shared his coverings with me, on hot days he had always helped me carry the bags, and the various things which I was supposed to carry. And when we ate he never served me the worst piece, keeping the best for himself; on the contrary, he shared it equally, the good and the bad. It is true, he sometimes pulled my ears more roughly than I liked, but if I needed the correction, what of that? In a word, I loved him, and he loved me.”

Horse-drawn barge
Horse-drawn barge

Apart from that, Nobody’s Boy sketches walks of life among the upper and lower classes of France in the nineteenth century – peasants, merchants, gardeners; as well as lawyers and clerks off from city of London in Lincoln’s Inn to peddlers from Bethnal Green (the Gin Lane) later on as the story proceeds. Overall, Nobody’s boy is heartwarming and an enchanting story about a boy’s personal growth and belief in faith through struggles and survival of the hardship amidst people he encountered who were also filled with bountiful virtues and willing to pass on their love and care to children. The novel also implies that parental personality could exert considerable influence on their offspring. If you have children, please introduce them this book or read it to them!

The Magic Fish-Bone (1868) by Charles Dickens

IMG_20150720_010004I’m participating in a short course about myths, legends, and fairytales. This is what I intend to do for my 5-minute presentation for the last lesson this weekend…:) I hope it goes well.

Main Characters: King Watkins the First (manliest), Queen (loveliest and the only housekeeper of the house), Queen’s father (medical man), nineteen children (including eldest daughter, Princess Alicia, 7), Mr. Pickles (fishmonger), Picker’s errand boy, Good Fairy Grandmarina, Peggy (the Lord Chamberlain), a doll (the Duchess)

Heroine: Princess Alicia (Princess and fairy story)

Setting (Time, Place): There was once a King, and he had a Queen…/ ordinary home

Magic Object(s): Fish-Bone

Purpose: The Magic Fish-Bone was especially written and intended for Victorian children (more moralistic-based)

Fairytales (Maslow’s/ Archetype)

Magic Fish-Bone

Analysis / Author & Historical Background / Author

(1)   Physical Well-Being “The King was, in his private profession, Under Government.”

-“The King went on towards the Office in a melancholy mood, for Quarter-Day was such a long way off, and several of the dear children were growing out of their clothes.”

– Heroine not mistreated, but lived in ordinary home rather than a royal palace. Straitened circumstances, fed on inexpensive items; e.g., stopped at the fishmonger’s to buy salmon for the household.

– Royals were stripped off inborn aristocracy and lived like plebeians.

Magical Tool(s) / Repetitions “Tell the Princess Alicia, with my love, that the fish-bone is a magic present which can only be used once, but that it will bring, her, that once, whatever she wishes for, PROVIDED SHE WISHES FOR IT AT THE RIGHT TIME…” Fish-bone only used as an act of emergency.
(2)   Safety Needs / Scenario(s) (a)   The Queen fainted away when she got up in the morning:

“The Princess Alicia kept the seventeen young princes and princesses quiet, and dressed and undressed and danced the baby, and made the kettle boil, and heated the soup, and swept the hearth, and poured out the medicine, and nursed the queen, and did all that ever she could, and was as busy, busy, busy as busy could be…”

“But on the morning when the queen fainted away, where was the magic fish-bone? Why, there it was in the Princess Alicia’s pocket! She had almost taken it out to bring the queen to life again, when she put it back, and looked for the smelling-bottle.”

(b)   Little snapping pug-dog making a rush advance towards one of the young Princes, who then crushed his arm towards the window pane with fright and caused an injury:

[S]he put the wounded prince’s hand in a basin of fresh cold water…and then she looked in the hand for bits of glass, and there were fortunately no bits of glass there. And then she said to two chubby-legged princes, who were sturdy though small, ‘Bring me in the royal rag-bag: I must snip and stitch and cut and contrive.”

(c)    Baby sibling fell under the grate:

“I am afraid to let him down yet, lest he should wake and feel pain; be good, and you shall all be cooks.’ They jumped for joy when they heard that, and began making themselves cooks’ caps out of old newspapers.”

Princess Alicia overcame various threats and didn’t produce the fish-bone out of her pocket, which were seen as temptations her ultimate reward.

(a)   Smelling-bottle (smelling salts) – widely used in the 19th century to arouse ladies’ consciousness from frights and tightness of corsets and crinolines (medical advance functioned as limiting the power of the magical tools seen in fairytales).

(b)   The first-aid knowledge and resourcefulness of a seven-year-old Alicia was exceptionable.

(c)    Abundance of newspapers and publishing companies. As well as mentioning points (a), (b), and (c), Dickens used the heroine as means of instilling particularities into the fairytale (responsibilities and duties in the household).

(3)   Belonging & love needs The doll (the duchess) was Princess Alicia’s sole comfort and substitution for social belonging and friendship when her motives and resourcefulness were not understood by her father.

‘Alicia.’ ‘Yes, papa.’ ‘What have you been doing?’ ‘Snipping, stitching, cutting, and contriving, papa.’ ‘Where is the magic fish-bone?’ ‘In my pocket, papa.’ ‘I thought you had lost it?’ ‘O, no, papa.’ ‘Or forgotten it?’ ‘No, indeed, papa.’ After that, she ran up-stairs to the duchess, and told her what had passed, and told her the secret over again; and the duchess shook her flaxen curls, and laughed with her rosy lips.

Ultimate Threat / Reward Escaped from poverty. The King’s quarter-day salary had not arrived. Fish-bone was used and the fairy announced there’d be eight quarter-days in every year. Poverty was reflected as a grave issue at the time.
(4&5) Esteem Needs from Potential Fulfillment and Self-Actualization Compliments from Grandmarina for her endurance and domesticity. Transformation and Romance: married to Prince Certainpersonio (not rich). Fairy Grandmarina promised that Prince Certainopersonio and Princess Alicia were to have thirty-five children, would never have measles and recovered from whooping-cough before being born. Living happily ever after (also a rag-to-riches story). Actualization: Financial safety for the family. – (Health and high mortality rate in children)

– Fertility (Catherine Dickens’s ten children)

– This created a dimension and previous hardship were rewarded with beauty and order. The self-actualization seen as a fulfilment towards good deeds for family (different from ordinary fairytales).

Moralistic/ Didactic Messages Conveyed “When we have done our very very best, papa, and that is not enough, then I think the right time must have come for asking help of others.”

(1)   Grown-ups ground of reasoning and ignorance.

(2)   Contrivance and endurance against temptations and hardship for the ultimate reward (Christian values?)

(3)   Realistic yet without being deprived of imagination.

(4)   Social conditions of the Victorian period.

Hard Times (1854) – fact and fancy

Morals served as the secondary element in the fairytale for sake of entertainment.

Villain(s) and Punishment “It only remains,” said Grandmarina in conclusion, “to make an end of the fish-bone.” So she took it from the hand of the Princess Alicia, and it instantly flew down the throat of the dreadful little snapping pug-dog, next door, and choked him, and he expired in convulsions. -Pugs were popular pets among European aristocrats. Queen Victoria kept a herd at the Palace.

– An attack on dowagers?

Other Elements (Feminism) Matrilineal descent (Fairy Godmother, Princess Alicia, Peggy the Lord Chamberlain), uncharismatic king

– Queen Victoria’s reign and stipulations

– Women’s virtue and wifely duties.