After a long absence I return to my blog refreshed and ready to return to my derailed character analysis series, “Little Old Ladies.” What started out as a comparison of all the Imposing Aunts in fiction slowly expanded to include the other non-matriarchal elder females in fiction. And what I found when I widened this lens was fascinating. Remember, most literature written pre-1960’s—which also happens to be the majority of my reading material—looks at women from a prefemenist point of view, a perspective that women were in some way weaker than men. And the reality was not much different from that perspective: according to law and social convention, women’s property was their husband’s, their rights were constricted according to what their male relatives allowed them to practice, and their lives were not their own to control.
So although characters like Catherine de Bourgh, the various “mean” aunts with names like Dahlia, Agatha, Augusta, etc., and Miss Havisham are all “negative” characters, in one way they are positive: they show strong women standing up for themselves, exercising powers that women of their day weren’t supposed to have.