Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Victorian Menses

I have been taking a Victorian Literature course this semester, and this quote appeared right after I was asked to contribute to this blog:

"Arabella approached the time when in the natural course of things she would have to reveal the the alarm she had raised [of being pregnant] had been without foundation" (Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure p64)

I realized that this was the first time in the entire class that menstruation was mentioned, and even then, more alluded too. The Victorian Era was a time of repression in general, and it made me wonder about what menstruation was thought of at the time. This kind of goes along with my final project for the class and I thought I would share my findings with all of you.

I have done a mild amount of research, and have so far come up with a big fat nothing, so I guess really what I'm saying is:

Thank you Thomas Hardy for having the guts to say SOMETHING about menstruation.

As a side note, Jude the Obscure is Hardy's last novel, and it was considered quite racy (it's not by today's standard) and I have a feeling that part of the raciness was this allusion to menstruation. You would think with the emphasis on science brought about by the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species the Victorians would be a little more up on scientific things like the fact that women have a monthly cycle, but they didn't really like to talk about anything in too much depth.


Jamie said...

Sometimes I wonder how anyone knew anything about any biological functions during that time. It seems like everything would just be terrifying and shameful.

Jamie said...
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