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Women and the Railway, 1850-1915$
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Anna Despotopoulou

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676941

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676941.001.0001

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Mrs Bathurst and Mrs Brown

(p.181) Coda
Women and the Railway, 1850-1915

Anna Despotopoulou

Edinburgh University Press

The concluding chapter wraps up the themes explored in the book and argues that with the late Victorian/early Modernist inward turn in the representation of woman, the subjectivity of the woman passenger becomes more elusive as interior monologue and free indirect discourse provide partial access to a conflicted self. Realist narrative practices falter as she progressively defies the standardization of time, rejecting temporal and spatial precision. The woman in the train carriage increasingly becomes an enigma to herself as well as to her fellow travellers with whom she often experiences a mutual estrangement. This elusiveness characterizes Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Brown and Rudyard Kipling’s Mrs Bathurst. In both texts the railway becomes the setting which perfectly shelters the restlessness, volatility, and increasingly impenetrable obscurity of woman. As such, railway women withstand their own assimilation within networks of institutional morality and knowledge that the railway, as a battlefield of gender and class conflicts, paradoxically both challenged and strengthened.

Keywords:   Modernism, obscurity, subjectivity, literary representation of woman, Virginia Woolf’s Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown, Rudyard Kipling’s Mrs Bathurst

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