Literary Analysis : Frances Ellen Walker Harper Published A Wealth Of Short Stories

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Frances Ellen Walker Harper published a wealth of short stories, poetry, essays, and novels in the middle to late 1800s. She was born into a politically active, free black family, attended her uncle’s school, and became the first female teacher at the Union Seminary. Harper’s unusually comfortable class-status and extensive education allowed her to become a skilled writer on topics that interested her, such as politics, civil rights, feminism, and religion. Harper used her skill and passion to become economically and emotionally independent. In fact, much of her work echoes her identity as a middle class woman of color who supported herself through writing. However, this nature of independence was unusual for a woman in the 1800s, especially a black woman. Though Harper’s portrayal of strong, independent womanhood is a much needed depiction of women, Harper is unqualified to establish expectations for black women in the 1800s. For the most part, society’s conception of women in the 19th century dictated the way women were treated and influenced the portrayal of female characters in writing generated during that time. The Cult of Domesticity claimed that true womanhood was marked by a natural inclination to domesticity and submissiveness. Though all women clearly have the capacity to think for themselves, earn money, and overcome the emotional obstacles they may meet, the plausibility of complete independence was a challenging appeal for Harper to make. Men dominated family

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