Spinsters, Aged, and Unstables: The Undesirable Women of Victorian England

There is a character in Reuben Sachs who I believe deserves more attention. From her introduction and unfavorable description, I became interested in Aunt Ada. At this point however, I really only know that she resembles a “creature in pain” and that she does not seem to care for herself very well. Though her personality appears to be very different, I was reminded of Miss Havisham in her perpetual wedding dress relative instability. Both women come from a life of wealth, and yet they are equally miserable. What’s more, they both are depicted as perhaps supernatural. Aunt Ada resembles a corse while Miss Havisham is ghostlike. This can thus further be connected to Catherine, who, after her mental breakdown, also turns into a phantom-type character. Then this seems to be something not uncommon of Victorian literature; a female character who’s mental state is weak or questionable taking on a more spectral role. Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre is a wonderful example of this. Now, the cause Miss Havisham’s, Catherine’s, and Bertha’s mental states are all attributed to the actions of the men in their lives. That makes me curious to see, if we learn more about Aunt Ada, if her story will follow a similar path.

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