Lucy Newcome

In today’s class, we discussed Arthur Symons’s “Pages from the Life of Lucy Newcombe” from the Savoy. I found this text to be incredibly interesting because of the different representations and meanings that it can offer the reader. In this case, we have a male author, writing about the horrific and sad circumstance of the fallen victorian woman. In this story, a woman who seems to come from a higher class status has had pre-marital sex and gotten pregnant. Unfortunately, that meant that she was homeless and abandoned by her family and the baby’s father. This woman chooses to live in poverty and starvation with her newborn infant as she works to barely make a living. Her malnourished child ends up dying, and alternatively, a man comes in and reassures Lucy that he can use his wealth to provide for her.

I find myself conflicted by the representations of feminity in this story. On one hand, it is true that this woman is complex and not as superficial as they might present her. However, could it be the case that this woman is a fair representation of a scorned and rejected mother during the puritan Victorian era, and a glimpse into this historical time period? Granted, this narrative was written by a man who may fail to capture the nuances of feminity, but if we remove the authorship from this story, can we see it as an honest account of the experience maltreated victorian women faced? Though this story might not appropriately characterize the life of the real-life Lucy, does that take away from the truth that the narrative might tell us as readers about the oppression of women?

 

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