By Molly Youngkin
Focusing on British girls writers' wisdom of old Egypt, Youngkin exhibits the mostly constrained yet pervasive representations of old Egyptian ladies of their written and visible works. pictures of Hathor, Isis, and Cleopatra stimulated how British writers equivalent to George Eliot and Edith Cooper got here to symbolize lady emancipation.
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Extra info for British Women Writers and the Reception of Ancient Egypt, 1840–1910: Imperialist Representations of Egyptian Women
As Susan Meyer explains in “‘Safely to Their Own Borders’: Proto-Zionism, Feminism, and Nationalism in Daniel Deronda” (1993), one aspect of the biblical draw of Egypt was tied to Britain’s interest in advocating for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, after the British pushed Egyptian troops back from Syria in 1839. , the French advocated for Catholics and the Russians advocated for Greek Christians), and Britain used advocacy for Jews as a way to “check another Egyptian invasion” of Syria (748–49).
Martineau’s characterization of the Egyptian harem as “hell upon earth” is echoed by Nightingale in her letters, when she contrasts a dispensary run by nuns to Said Pacha’s harem, both of which she visited on the same day: “[I]f heaven and hell exist on this earth . . it is in the two worlds I saw on that one morning: the dispensary and the hareem” (Nightingale, Florence Nightingale on Mysticism 462). In addition, Nightingale also characterizes the contemporary Egyptian women she comes across in her travels as nonhuman: the poor Egyptian women helped by the Sisters of St.
The negative but still alluring aspects of Cleopatra’s character typically are what are emphasized in Victorian periodicals, and an 1894 review of an exhibition titled “Fair Women,” which appeared in The National Review, confirms this characterization, since the reviewer comments that one of Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s paintings of Cleopatra shows well the “wiles and voluptuous charm . . of the Serpent of the Old Nile” (Anonymous, “About” 614). This characterization, written in the 1890s, is not surprising, given the development of decadence at the end of the Victorian period, but even a much Bound by an English Eye ● 9 earlier article, from the 1872 volume of The Dublin University Magazine, paints Cleopatra in a manipulative light.
British Women Writers and the Reception of Ancient Egypt, 1840–1910: Imperialist Representations of Egyptian Women by Molly Youngkin