'The Bridge of Sighs', here printed in a 1872 edition of The Favourite Poems of Thomas Hood , is a melodramatic poem written in 1844 about a young woman's suicide. It is hinted at that she is unmarried and pregnant, and that the shame society places on her as a 'fallen' woman drives her to take her own life.
This edition includes dramatic illustrations by Gustave Doré, who dramatises the point at which the woman is deciding to jump from the bridge, and after, as her body is recovered from the river. Troublingly, both the poem and the illustrations fetishise the dead woman's body.
The poem inspired several other artists including John Everett Millais and George Frederic Watts.
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Poverty and the working classes, London, Gender and sexuality
What was the place of prostitution in 19th-century society? Judith Flanders looks at documents and publications that provide an insight into attitudes towards the profession.