Victorian Symbolism In Hunt's 'The Awakening'

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Initially, Hunt’s “The Awakening” appears to show symbols that make it clear that this is a mistress and her lover. A stereotypical Victorian portrayal of a mistress usually includes pale white skin, brown-reddish and long wavy hair.The absence of a wedding ring, confirming she is not the man’s wife. The man's discarded glove warns that the likely fate of a cast-off mistress was prostitution. Around the room are visible reminders of her "kept" status (meaning that her lover is paying for some or all of her living expenses) for example, a tapestry hangs unfinished on the piano and a fancy clock is hidden within glass for decoration – something she could not have afforded on her own. Sarah Kuhl comments “All these things depict the woman as …show more content…

The ivy behind her could represent clinging memory and the passing of time; the shadow on the wall is her time in Hades (as she is a Greek Goddess that would spend her winter in Hades), that now haunts her.. Her dress, like spilling water, suggests the turning of the tides, and the incense burner denotes the subject as an immortal. Her saddened eyes, which are the same cold blue colour as most of the painting, indirectly stare at the other realm. Overall, dark hues characterise the colour scheme of the piece that she is a dark woman within who has sinned. “Eve and Proserpine both represent females banished for their sin of tasting a forbidden fruit. Their yielding to temptation has often been seen as a sign of feminine weakness or lack of restraint.” Khan argues which is probably one of the first things I also noticed when I saw the painting – it was most likely the whole reason why Rossetti chose to have Proserpine holding a fruit which we cannot make out is –directs our minds to think of Eve and the forbidden fruit. Similar to Hunt, both painters are visualising for us their own ideas of fallen women. They’ve both painted them as beautiful and cunning looking women who were seen as deviant to Victorians but mean something else for women in the twenty first century society. ction because of the change in thinking what was taboo and what is taboo. In addition, the symbolism within Rossetti’s “Proserpine”

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