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An (Other) Scribbler: Grace Aguilar's Anglicized Jewish Woman

Author(s): Katie Klein

Journal: eSharp
ISSN 1742-4542

Volume: 1;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2005;
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Keywords: Aguilar | The Fugitive | A True Tale | Victorian literature | Jew

“The Fugitive; A True Tale”, the subject of this paper, offers a glimpse of Grace Aguilar’s early-modern period of writing, in which she uses the history of the Spanish Inquisition and Marranos to consider the role of women in the Jewish home and the Jew in Christian England. Grace Aguilar (1816-1847) is best known as a poet, historical romance writer, domestic novelist, Jewish emancipator, religious reformer, educator, social historian, theologian, and liturgist. Jews and Christians, men and women, and religious traditionalists and reformers, read her throughout the nineteenth century in England, America, and Europe. Within her writing, she was various and although she is one of the most visible spokespersons for Jewish emancipation, her presence in the Victorian literary marketplace reveals that she does not merely seek Jewish civil rights; she uses her faith and femininity to empower women’s domesticity. This essay focuses on the place of the Victorian Jewess in society as both a woman and a Jew. Aguilar uses this story as a case study on the figure of the Anglicized Jew and the soon to be Anglicized Jewess. She attempts to diminish the difference between Judaism and Christianity by creating human characters who highlight a similarly of spirit shared between the two religions. She also explores the Anglicization of the Jew by writing a heroine evocative of traditional domestic ideals surrounding images and expectations of womanhood. By engaging in the Anglo-Victorian literary marketplace, Aguilar writes a story of the ideal domestic woman regardless of religion.
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