@Lili B. @Lucienne @de Pizan My admittedly optimist-spun take on HJ is that, insofar as he writes "women's problems," e.g. Isabel's anxiety about the marriage market, he also writes them as problems often created by men's systems. I also have a difficult relationship with Dickens: love the prose, find the angels in the house annoying as heck. But Betsey Trotwood is far from the only great, complicated female character. I need to read more Trollope, as an unsuccessful run-in with Barchester Towers is as far as I've gotten. I loved Collins' The Woman in White but/and it also made me want to read All The Gender Studies Criticism.
What's the consensus (or debate) on Isabel Archer (Henry James, Portrait of a Lady)? I know, I know, Henry James, but Isabel was one of the first modern male-written female characters I read where I really did feel that she was a real person, one I might have known, one in whom I recognized myself (for good and ill.)