2008 年 2008 巻 28 号 p. 19-39,86
In Elizabeth Gaskell's day, to have written with sympathy of a fallen woman' was an act of courage. Under such a circumstance, Gaskell deals with this problem in Ruth (1853). The heroine, Ruth is seduced and abandoned by Bellingham. In despair, she decides to kill herself, but the minister Benson saves her. The Bensons and their servant Sally are responsible for educating Ruth, and pass her off as a young widow. Telling a lie is needed to save Ruth's child from a bastard's position. Gaskell describes the effect on Leonard of the circumstances of his birth. Leonard has affection without being spoilt. But the secret is revealed. Leonard experiences a sense of danger to his identity by need to disconnect from the sinful mother. This paper concentrates some form of conflict between mother and son, because the effects of the discovery fall with impact on Ruth and Leonard. The relationship of Leonard's bonding to the mother Ruth is strengthened when Ruth enters the public world as a nurse, and is admired by her community. At the end, Ruth dies as a result of nursing Bellingham. It is not love that takes her to his side, but a sense of duty.
The narrative voice manifests passions about their relationship, for Gaskell seeks an outlet for her own personal agony: the trauma of losing her only son from scarlet fever when he was only nine months old. The mother's unconscious desire related to her son will be made clear by the tools for dream interpretation. In this sense, a part of the psychoanalytic works of Freud provides a useful framework for Ruth. Following the way in which mother and son interact with one another and the emotional conflicts between them, we can find Gaskell's own ideas about the human rights. Ruth is in favor of the view that the fallen woman can earn reacceptance into normal life, and the right of the illegitimate child to a proper home and a place in society. In other words, Gaskell exposes a social evil from the purely human standpoint of pity for an individual case.