Virtue between Gender and Monetary Perceptions: A Study of Henry James’ Daisy Miller and Dreiser’s Sister Carrie
Dr. Nadia Hamendi

The concern with female chastity has long been a controversial one. The Victorian period had rigorous rules for female conduct that had to be followed by women if they wished to keep their social status and reputation, however, these rules shifted with the changing values of society in the twentieth century from a conventional to a monetary stance on virtue. This study aims at showing how two authors, Henry James and Theodore Dreiser, represent the two opposing ends of the moral scale, for while James took a traditional approach, where the gender of the transgressor labeled them a fallen man/woman, Dreiser adopted an economic stance where wealth determined a character‟s rise or fall, regardless of gender. It follows the fate of two pairs of characters, Daisy/ Carrie, Winterbourne/ Hurstwood, showing how the dichotomy between their differing outcomes reflects the changing social attitudes and how society‟s perception of virtue has shifted from a gender based Victorian stance to a modern economic one. This proves that society‟s concern is not with the actual virtue of woman but rather with how that woman is perceived.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijll.v7n1a13