Vocation In Gaudy Night Essay

8450 words - 34 pages

Gaudy Night was written by Dorothy L. Sayers and published in 1935. It is the tenth novel of the Lord Peter Wimsey's detective series and the third novel featuring Harriet Vane. It can be classified as being part of the "cosy detective story" genre. In this novel, Harriet goes back to her former university, Shrewsbury College at Oxford, in order to attend a Gaudy which is a reunion of former students dressed in academic gowns attending a formal dinner at university. There, Harriet meets her former fellow students and sees what have become of them. She also meets her former teachers as well as new ones who has come to teach at Shrewsbury College. Shortly afterwards the Gaudy, Harriet is ...view middle of the document...

" However, changes were occurring in society during the 1920s and women were granted better places and better opportunities. Thus, many felt the need to choose between gaining respect for themselves from their male and female peers, and leading a "normal" life of love and happiness: in other words, women felt the need to choose between a career or founding a family. Gaudy Night, with the worldwide successful writer Harriet Vane at the core of the story, is precisely about moving on from the old, patriarchal principle in which wives are supposed to raise children and husbands to earn money, "to the question of marriage for educated women who had enough money to support themselves. Harriet Vane (...) really is free to choose, as she knows that she will lack nothing economically if she remains single." Gaudy Night is seen as Dorothy L. Sayers's book about feminism but "what it's really about is the difficult balance between love and work and whether it is possible for a woman to lead a life of the mind wholeheartedly, and whether it's possible for her to do this and have love and a family." This is the thesis of the novel: Can a woman be a true scholar and have a family at the same time? Harriet Vane finds herself in this position as she feels torn between her feelings for Lord Peter and her desire of independence.[1: WALTON, Jo, "The mind, the heart, sex, class, feminism, true love, intrigue, not your everyday ho hum detective story: Dorothy Sayers's Gaudy Night", 26 March 2010, l.4][2: ROBINSON, Jane, Bluestockings (2009), Penguin Books, London, 2010, 95][3: Ibid., xxiii][4: Ibid., 95][5: BRAY, Suzanne, "Dorothy L. Sayers and the Problems facing Intelligent Women", The Dorothy L. Sayers Society Convention, Somerville College, Oxford, August 2012, 21][6: WALTON, Op. Cit., l.6-8]Harriet Vane has to find her true vocation and in order to do so, she has to find the right balance between her professional and private life.Gaudy Night is set in the 1930s, the society can be summed up into two opposite points of view with Harriet in the middle of it, not truly knowing where she belongs: on the one hand, there are the committed scholars who dedicate their lives to their work, and, on the other, society's principles which have considerable weight on how people, including Harriet, behave. Once the context is established, Harriet's case must be analysed. In Gaudy Night, her will veers between Oxford and Lord Peter but she entirely mistrusts her emotions. Finally, with all the cards in her hands, Harriet has to balance Eros and Logos by defining what intellectual integrity means to her and learning that love does not exclude independence and can mean partnership.In the beginning of the 20th century, quite a number of women started to go to universities. A lot of them thrived in the scholastic fields and became really good students. Education was a chance given to them that they would not turn down. Women were handed the opportunity to receive an excellent...

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