The "Angel-in-the-House" figure is an ideal commonly used to define sexual standards of the Victorian age. Although widely considered to be the cultural "norm", the Victorian Angel, revered for her morality, domestic virtue, and dedication to the family is more frequently depicted in the literature of the time as an anomaly. In fact, a primary concern of Victorian literature appears to be the many exceptions to this unattainable ideal - all of them fallen women. Deborah Anne Logan presents a study of this image of fallenness in Victorian literature, focusing on the link between economic need and promiscuity. Fallenness, according to Logan, does not simply refer to women who have strayed form sexual morality; the ranks of the fallen include besides prostitutes and whores, needlewomen, alcoholics, blacks and harem women. All of these women are presented as fallen because all have, in some regard, failed to conform to the sexual "norm". In most cases, economic need was responsible for their failure to uphold the ideals of domesticity or motherhood that were so revered in 19th-century society.
Exploring the writings of Victorian women, including Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskill, Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Mary Prince, Logan presents characters who are victims of economics and class, gender and race. She utilizes primary texts from these Victorian writers as well as contemporary critics, such as Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar to provide the background on class and economic factors that contributed both to sexual deviancy from the ideal and to contemporary discourses about fallen women. Examining novels, short stories, poetry, and travel journals, Logan demonstrates the links between women writers and their fallen characters in all genres.show more