Summary: George Gissing's The Odd Women dramatizes key class and gender issues in late-Victorian culture: the changing relationship between the sexes, the cultural impact of the New Woman, and the conditions created by the expanding service sector of the economy. At the heart of these issues, as many late Victorians saw them, was the imbalance in the ratio of men to women. Because there were more females than males, more women would be left unmarried; they would be odd or red ...show moreundant, forced to be independent and to support themselves.
In Gissing's story, Virginia Madden and her two sisters are confronted upon the death of their father with sudden impoverishment. Without training for employment, and desperate to maintain middle-class respectability, they face a daunting struggle. In Rhoda Nunn, a strong feminist, Gissing also presents a strong character who draws attention overtly to the issues behind the novel. The Odd Women is one of the most important social novels of the late nineteenth century.