Clara Wieck Schumann and the Struggle for Equality in Nineteenth-Century Germany
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Clara Wieck Schumann and the Struggle for Equality in Nineteenth-Century Germany The place of women before and during the nineteenth century is well summarized by a Bavarian statute book, which states that “by marriage, the wife comes under the authority of the husband and the law allows him to chastise her moderately” (Gay 177). These ideas are similarly echoed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
Citizen and the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The former did not afford women any of the rights provided for men, such as liberty, property, resistance to oppression, voting, free speech, etc.; the latter reasoned that because women were the weaker sex, they should not (and moreover could not) be a part of society…show more content… Also during this period, nationalism was on the rise and encompassed nearly all aspects of universities, which increasingly allowed women access to an education, opening the door for their liberation (Gay 48).
Very often during this period, women experienced great monotony in their lives and became jaded with the tasks they performed day after day. While some women put up with this hackneyed life, others struggled to free themselves from it. Many not only fought for rights but against injustices their sex had sustained in previous centuries (Gay 172). The end of the nineteenth century saw an increased activism by women, who argued against their dominated position and for fundamental changes in laws (Gay 177). While there did exist some men who supported women and believed their deprivation of many rights was unjust, many more were disheartened with the advancing woman. Because men had come to relax in their domineering role, they became uncomfortable, if not fearful, when women showed their independence. This led to a bourgeois culture which can be summed up in a single word: uncertainty (Gay 48, 171). Changes were occurring at a rapid pace, and many older, more conservative citizens saw this as a time of frenzied disregard for the concrete, sustained values and morals with which they had been raised. The nineteenth century was a time when all facets of life—religious, political, sexual—were being questioned