Women: Conformity vs. Resistance

George Sand
Women Writers
 
Sand vs. Tristan
--Rebels I
--Rebels II
--George Sand
--Flora Tristan
--Beaumont

Works Consulted

 

George Sand

 
"...people think it very natural and pardonable to trifle with what is most sacred when dealing with women: women do not count in the social or moral order. I solemnly vow--and this is the first glimmer of courage and ambition in my life!--that I shall raise woman from her abject position, both through my self and my writing, God will help me!...let female slavery also have its Spartacus. That shall I be, or perish in the attempt."
 
-George Sand in a letter to Frederic Girerd, 1837 (Winegarten, 161)

The romantic 19th century French novelist, George Sand, was born Aurore Dupin in 1804. In 1821, after both Aurore's father and grandmother had died, she married Casimir Dudevant to escape her mother's guardianship. Aurore soon found married life too constraining for her and so moved out. (At the time divorce was illegal and so she was only separated from her husband.) On her own, she soon realized that the monthly allowance she received from her husband was not enough to lead the life she once did and so she began to publish her writings to gain money. Her first few novels were co-written with her lover Jules Sandeau but in 1832 she wrote her first solo novel, Indiana, under the pseudonym George Sand.
 

George Sand: The Woman
Aurore not only had a man's name now but she also dressed as a man. Being an adventuring enthusiast, she yearned to enter the intellectual scenes where women were forbidden: restricted libraries, museums and the pit of the theatre (where the seats were cheaper but still a socially unacceptable place for a lady.) For access she donned men's trousers, a hat and smoked cigars. At first, waiters and bellhops would look on in confusion. They did not know whether to call her madam or sir and she soon found that the title changed dependent on what she was wearing at the time. Though many assumed George was trying to become a man, in truth she was fighting the stereotype of the proper bourgeois lady. She stood up against the double standards of marriage and claimed that women had the same right to freedom as their husbands. In a letter to Francois Rollinat she wrote: "Chastity would have been glorious on the part of free women. For women slaves it is tyranny which wounds them and whose yoke they badly shake off." (Cate, 391)
George Sand: The Writer
Although George Sand was not the first women author, she is often attributed as the first professional woman writer of fiction. By taking on a man's name she claimed her equality with the male writers of the time. She wanted to be judged purely based upon her talents and not only as a women author, which the men looked upon condescendingly. She soon became famous and other women began to copy her style. They too took on male names but most of these women lacked the education that the male authors had. While the men had been taught editing, revising and polishing before releasing their work to the public, the women lacked this education and so would often publish their first drafted idea. As for George Sand's own writing, her words were read by hundreds of men and women alike. Her novels often portrayed women as

intelligent and morally sound individuals, giving her readers confidence in their worth as females. She was an idol to women of her time. While giving dignity to those she considered enslaved to marriage, she forever changed the way that women writers were viewed.