In The French Lieutenant's Woman, do you find Sarah's characterization to be essentially realistic, or is she more myth than woman? Sarah has a difficult time in the novel, and according to critic Pamela Cooper, part of Sarah's problems derive from a mythologizing male narrator, who is developing an "image of the idealized feminine, even as [he] seeks to expose as false the sexual idealization of the Victorian."
The character of Sarah Woodruff is fascinating in the way that she is described as an enigmatic figure who never really is conclusively explored or explained comprehensively by the author. One of the interesting aspects of the narration is that the author deliberately witholds a full description of her character throughout the entire novel, and some critics see this as a sign that it is impossible to know another person completely and that there will always be the presence of some mystery as the understanding of humans is reliant on individual perspective rather than objective truths.
Sarah therefore does seem to exist more as a symbol rather than an independent character in her own right. It is obvious that she is...
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