Margaret Flanders Darby: Rosa Bud Grows Out From Under Her Little Silk Apron

Отправлено 1 окт. 2017 г., 11:13 пользователем Sven Karsten   [ обновлено 1 окт. 2017 г., 11:13 ]

HARLES Dickens created a visually compelling dramatic entrance for Rosa Bud, heroine of The Mystery of Edwin Drood: "a charming little apparition, with its face concealed by a little silk apron thrown over its head, glides into the parlor". A little silk apron is both sign and travesty of bourgeois housewifery, of child and woman. An apparition that glides into the parlor, head shrouded under cloth, is both flesh and spirit, especially in the Nun's House parlor, with its deep history of female incarceration and denial of nature beneath its current character as stronghold of gentility. The last of Dickens's dimpled, ringletted, marriageable young women — "wonderfully pretty, wonderfully childish, wonderfully whimsical" — Rosa is a pert, willful child on the threshold of maturity, ready to question its assumptions and consider her independence from them. Greeting her fiancé from under an apron presents Rosa as ready to play with convention and also to contemplate casting it off. Owing to the accident of his premature death, Rosa Bud is the culmination of Dickens's reliance on charming young heroines; nonetheless, Rosa is more than last in the series. On the contrary, this essay will argue that she offers a remarkably modern point of view, voicing Dickens's evolving awareness of an effective defense, with Helena Landless's sisterly help, against sexual harassment. [Wendy Jacobson of Rhodes University, South Africa, wrote about Rosa Bud in the June 2001 issue of this journal. Although my focus here is less on the friendship of Helena and Rosa, and more on Rosa's self-determination, I find the earlier work helpful and congruent with my own.] He explored sexual obsession in his previous novel, Our Mutual Friend; in this subsequent novel he delves further than ever before into a woman's perspective as she responds to a dangerous, controlling man. It is Rosa's task to escape John Jasper's control by clearly articulating her situation, growing out from under the apron of genteel femininity, and running away.

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