Defining the Victorian Woman Essay

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Defining the Victorian Woman

In the Victorian Age, there existed a certain ideology of what constituted the

perfect Victorian woman. In the beginning of the eighteenth century, young girls

began attending schools that offered basic skills such as reading, writing, and

math. Manuals of etiquette and conduct instructed young girls in manners of

society and the home (Basch 3). All of this prepared a young woman for marriage,

which, in the nineteenth century, was "put forward as being the culminating

point of a woman's life" (Basch 16). Thus, the perfect woman was also the

perfect wife, an active part of the family, with specific regard to the children

(Vicinus ix). Yet, although
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Most often, marriage defined a woman's status and her attitude and emotions.

Married women represented the angel of the house. Women learned "passive virtues

of patience, resignation, and silent suffering" (Lerner 175). Women were

expected to take care of their families and the home as if it were the only

thing that mattered in the world. A good wife did not want to be outside the

home or do anything that would distract her from her duties. These virtues

characterized their lives. Society directed their use of them to guide their

families emotionally and morally as wife and mother. Women always maintained

their submissive, dependent status in their marriage (Basch 6). This idea of

wife as an inspiration was central to the Victorian concept of the home and its

meaning. Because the Victorians viewed the home as the haven from evil, it only

made sense that the woman's place, with these prescribed virtues, was in the

home (Basch 7). In addition, women were not emotional, especially when it came

to sex. Although part of her defined role included child-bearing, a woman did

not exhibit any sexual impulses. Women were not supposed to generate passion or

even enjoy sex. Sex in the marriage was meant entirely for the purpose of

procreating (Basch
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