Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The fallen woman, long existent in patriarchal discourse and intensified by Victorian sexual ethics, succumbs to seduction or sensual desires, suffers social condemnation and ostracism, and eventually dies, either repentantly or shamelessly. The questions of female sexuality and feminine virtues are dealt with in The Great Gatsby, Daisy Miller and The Awakening. Daisy Buchanan, Jordan, and Myrtle, all three sexually transgressive women, are punished, with Myrtle, the most sexually aggressive, being subjected to an outrageous death penalty. Daisy Miller, upon engaging in acts of self-presentation and female appropriation of male space, undergoes social disapprobation and dies an untimely death. Edna, though boldly adopting a single sexual standard for both men and women and awakening to life?s independence and sexual freedom, eventually realizes there is no space for her and submerges herself in the ocean. In contrast, the recent contemporary narrative pattern deconstructs the myth of the fallen woman and allows the fallen woman to live and prosper. The fallen woman, traditionally a secondary character who is considered a threat to the virtuous heroine, has emerged as a major or central character with a revolutionary power that both conquers and heals. Like Water for Chocolate, Chocolat and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe acknowledge female mobility and sexual freedom and appropriate a space hitherto denied to fallen women. Eva Bates and Gertrudis, satiating female sexual desires and representing eroticized female bodies, overturn the traditional narrative of falling and dying by becoming competent and worthy members of society. Tita and Vianne are central heroines who challenge the cult of true womanhood, embody the sexualized New Woman and display strength and personal power, making them pillars of their communities.

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