Jia Jing Ding

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Agnes Berecz

Second Advisor

Eric Wolf


Sexuality during the Victorian Era revolved around intricate societal norms, values, and expectations governing sexual behavior. It is commonly associated with a rigid moral code and a repressive approach towards sexuality, particularly in public discourse. Yet, the reality was always far more diverse and complex, encompassing a wide array of attitudes and experiences. Central to Victorian sexuality was an emphasis on chastity, modesty, and sexual restraint, especially for women. The prevailing ideology promoted the idea of "separate spheres," wherein women were expected to embody virtue, purity, and a focus on domestic responsibilities, while men enjoyed greater sexual freedom and assertiveness. Consequently, women's conduct was scrutinized, and any display of female sexuality outside the confines of marriage was stigmatized.
Stemming from the study of sexuality in 19th Century England, the paper also
investigates the visual representations that reveals the underlying assumptions about social morality, sexuality, and relationship between sexes. From this research, author hopes to present new insight and identify the fallacy in the stories and assumptions of Fallen Women manifested by Victorian men, by mainly William Holman Hunt’s piece The Awakening Conscience in comparison to other Victorian Era Art on the topic of the Fallen Women , while providing a 21st Century feminist perspective on a well-known and studied subject.