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Southern Women and dress: Scarlett and Drusilla vs. the corset. Rebekah Boden and Carroll Barbour. The status. “map a particular significance of women’s bodies” (Johnson 204).

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southern women and dress scarlett and drusilla vs the corset
Southern Women and dress:Scarlett and Drusilla vs. the corset

Rebekah Boden and Carroll Barbour

the status
The status
  • “map a particular significance of women’s bodies” (Johnson 204).
  • To join anti-corset crusades would be to “miss not only some of what corsets did to women—but also perhaps for them” (213).
  • The corset was both a literally constricting discourse and also a sign of women’s status” (218).
the power
The power
  • “corsets were coded by both women and men for class, sex, and social value” (217).
  • speaks of Catherine Beecher, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, wearing a corset for a powerful picture “With a corset, she had girded herself to do battle with the world” (218).
  • shows “contempt for the simpering girls who live out the prescriptions of southern ladyhood, she nevertheless adopts the conventions when she wants to attract men” (Fox-Genovese 395).
the insecurity
The Insecurity
  • Weakened without it
  • Mitchell “relies upon history and social conventions to complete the silences she leaves in her exploration of female identity, just as she relies upon them to contain, in however contradictory a fashion, the painful and confusing desires of the female self” (Fox-Genovese 394)
the insecurity1
The Insecurity
  • “a corset impressed apparently natural virtues upon the shape of a woman’s body, qualities that somehow she lacked without the garment” (Johnson 204).
the position
The position
  • “psychological exploration of the place of women within the ruling class and of the tensions between their subjective desires and their assigned objective role” (Fox-Genovese 394).
slide7

As she collapses the binaries of class and gender that structure the society of the Old South, going to war “in the garments not alone of a man, but of a common private soldier,’ Drusilla critiques the Southern social order by evading it. Still, she cannot completely escape. Her mother forcesher to marry, and John Sartoris, as her husband, forces her back into skirts. Once again confined to the house, the proper realm of the Southern lady, she is barred from participation in the violence that invigorates and empowers her (575-76).

slide8

Drusilla’s mother “expected the worst since Drusilla deliberately tried to unsex herself by refusing to feel any natural grief at the death in battle not only of her affianced husband but of her own father…” (189).

slide9

“Drusilla worships not just honor and courage but an entire lost civilization. She has not forgotten her womanhood; she has renounced it in favor of a greater cause, the Dream of the South—The Old South—rebuilt on the ashes of the demoralized, defeated Confederacy” (Gobble 576-77).

slide10

Drusilla began her transformation as“When They come to burn the house Dru grabbed the pistol and run out here, she had on her Sunday Dress and Them right behind her” (90).

  • She accepts her feminine role in society by accepting that she cannot avenge her husband herself and relinquishes pistols to Bayard.