Anna Orel


One of the most prevalent issues of the Victorian era was the increasing movement of women into the job market. That was the time when the traditional female roles were reinforced and reconsidered at the same time. Women who were regarded as “Angels of the house” started to seek freedom from domesticity. The article explores the lexical units representing working women in Victorian novels. It highlights the major areas in which Victorian women were involved (household service, education, industry, outwork, trade, entrepreneurship, agriculture, art). The analysis is based on a number of methods, in particular on the lexical-semantic field method and the frame analysis. The socio-cultural commentary along with the extensive illustrative material enables the author to single out the lexemes describing female professions (lady’s maid, housemaid, governess, schoolmistress, etc.) as well as the most common stereotypes concerning working women in those days. The contextual environment study of 33 female job titles offers insight into typical actions, social status, as well as the inner life of Victorian working women. However, the less typical female occupations (doctors, politicians, etc.) can be rarely found in Victorian novels. The findings of the analysis may be useful for linguistic and cultural research of the Victorian era as well as for gender and feminist studies.


Victorian era; linguistic and cultural analysis; gender studies; working women; female job titles

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