The socialite, the simpleton and the shopkeeper: female roles in the works of Beatrix Potter

Bower, Jane (2019). The socialite, the simpleton and the shopkeeper: female roles in the works of Beatrix Potter. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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Using a close reading of the texts, I explore female roles in Beatrix Potter’s collected tales, focusing specifically on the role of female friendship, the role of mothering and finally the labour roles. I draw upon examples from The Complete Collection of Original Tales 1-23 as well as the recently published The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. Key discussions circulate around Mrs Tabitha Twitchit and Cousin Ribby, as well Jemima Puddle-Duck. Throughout all three chapters, I discuss the theme of performance in Potter’s works and the varying degrees to which her characters are simply performing a role in order to conform to the Victorian ideal of femininity. I argue that Potter creates her female characters in a way which suggests that formation of female friendships and mothering actions are simply performative and mocks a society which imposes such ideals of women. On the other hand, I argue that Potter does the opposite with role of labour and in doing so, reflects a society which was seeing an increase in female entrepreneurship and business ownership. Finally, I argue that the continued popularity of Potter’s tales can be attributed to the idea that many of the issues explored around female roles remain relevant today.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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