Since Madame de Staël (De la littérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les institutions socials [About Literature in Connection with Social Institutions, 1800]) the national character of a people has been viewed as a co-determining factor in the creation of literary works along with the historical background, the author’s life experiences and even the overall climate. The test point by which the state of civilization of a country or age may be judged has been called the position of women in society (Eileen Power, The Legacy of the Middle Ages, 1926). Accordingly, female protagonists frequently serve as mirrors of societal backwardness or of advances toward more equality among the g…
Hoffmeister, Gerhart. "Heroines: Their Development in European Narratives". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 January 2012; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=17672, accessed 26 April 2015.]