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This book examines Verga's heroines in the social and cultural context of nineteenth-century Italy. The work highlights the ways in which social reality and cultural fantasy clash with women's individuality. The study focuses on the critical moments in the formation of female identity and on the roles and relationships that define these moments. The book follows Verga's women through adolescence, marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, and adultery. The thematic approach allows comparisons among characters in dramatically different circumstances and brings to light the experiences that unite them. Many of this book's topics--female adolescence, the mother-daughter bond, the relationship between sisters and female friends--have been the focus of feminist critics over the past twenty years. Figuring Women contributes to the feminist re-reading of canonical male-authored texts while providing Verga scholars and students with a new perspective on his work. Susan Amatangelo is an Assistant professor of Italian at the College of the Holy Cross.