The Language of Hair in the Nineteenth-Century Novel


Novelists use hairstyles as a kind of language. First, I examine the meanings and connotations of the terms for the changing hairstyles in nineteenth-century France. In novels they may suggest social status or character traits. Second, I examine the language of hair that comes undone. When novelists present women with loose or uncovered hair, they use the linguistic and social conventions of their time to signal either a dramatic situation or a disruption of social norms, including physical or emotional distress, eroticism, and prostitution. I give examples from many novelists, including Balzac, Flaubert, Maupassant, and Zola. (CR)

Rifelj, Carol.
Release Year:
Project MUSE: 
2003-2004 Fall-Winter; 32(1-2): 83-103.