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
For the longest time, women’s role in society was very narrow and set in stone. Women weren’t given the chance to decide life for their own, and there was a very sharp distinction of gender roles. Women were viewed as inferior, weak, and dependant. They were expected to be responsible for the family and maintainance of the house. But as the 19th century began, so did a drastic change in society. Women started voicing their opinions and seeking change. Trying to break away from this ideology called “cult of domesticity” was a lengthy, burdensome, and demanding struggle.
Lucy Stanton was born a free women and raised by John Brown, an abolitionist. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from a four-year collegiate course. A black woman going to school is extraordinary, because she challenged the ‘women are only housewives’ stereotype and rose like a phoenix from the ashes as an influence to future abolitionists and authors in the United States. Being a black woman in the 1850s, the odds were stacked against her. The majority of black students were denied admission to educational facilities, although white women were considered as non-intellectuals, black women were seen as less than that.
Harper can be compared to all of the writers that we have read on the topic of slavery, but Harper gave us the imagery of slavery through her rhyme scheme of poetry. Harper was more descriptive in how she portrayed the reality of slavery than the other writers we discussed because the other writers focused on the history of slavery and were straight forward, and Harper made you feel as if you were actually there to witness what she was playing out in her poems through her usage of figurative language. Harper mainly discussed freedom of slaves and what women had to endure in slavery. Jacobs and Stowe did the same in discussing what women slave went through by using the examples of the factor of
Towards the end of the 1800s and into the beginning of the 1900s, the roles of women in society and in the family began to change drastically compared to what it had been in the past. Women were now allowed to own land, vote, and do more than cook and clean. Willa Cather and William Faulkner portray the roles of women in the early 1900s in their short stories, “Neighbor Rosicky” and “A Rose for Emily.” These short stories were both published around the year 1930. Because of what was happening in the US at the time, these stories are very good examples of the ways women were treated at this time.
Women in the nineteenth century, for the most part, had to follow the common role presented to them by society. This role can be summed up by what historians call the “cult of domesticity”. The McGuffey Readers does a successful job at illustrating the women’s role in society. Women that took part in the overland trail as described in “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey” had to try to follow these roles while facing many challenges that made it very difficult to do so.
The article, The Cult of Womanhood: 1820 - 1860 written by Barbara Welter discusses the philosophy towards women in America during the mid 19th century. A set of demands and expectations based upon four principles: piety, purity, submission and domesticity were placed on women as well as certain behavioral expectations left 19th century women feeling guilty. It also left women feeling this way during the industrialization period as well as having a huge presence of incompatibility with society. Welter shares her viewpoint that the Cult of Womanhood was an attempt to preserve pre modern values in the industrial age. Men held a dominant place in society and continued to prevent new opportunities for women to explore. Narrow minded
Two-hundred years is a sizeable gap of time that allows plenty of room for change. American society had been rapidly changing from the early seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century, but despite this, the roles and rights of women have remained locked in place. There were many factors to consider as to why women were not allowed to flourish in their time and exceed these boundaries, and while some accepted it, there were many that opposed and faced these difficulties head on. Two female authors, one from colonial times, and one from nineteenth century America, have written about the obstacles and misogyny they’ve overcome in a male dominated literary career. Despite the two-hundred-year gap between the lives of Margaret Fuller and Anne Bradstreet, they both face issues regarding the static stereotype that women are literarily inferior and subservient handmaids to men.
The next requirement for being a “true woman” was submissiveness. According to society men were superior to women by “God’s appointment.” If they acted otherwise they “tampered with the order of the Universe” (Welter 105). A “true woman” would not question this idea because she already understands her place. Grace Greenwood explained to the women of the Nineteenth Century, “True feminine genius is ever timid, doubtful, and clingingly dependant; a perpetual childhood.” Even in the case of an abusive husband, women were sometimes told to stay quiet
During the middle of the nineteenth century, a so-called "cult of domesticity" arose in the United States and Great Britain predicated upon a number of assumptions regarding the proper role of women in society, and it served to protect male hegemony during a period of historical upheaval. According to Godey's Lady's Book, one of the most successful magazines of the period, "the perfection of womanhood... is the wife and mother, the center of the family, that magnet that draws man to the domestic altar, that makes him a civilized being... the wife is truly the light of the home." A woman's appropriate role was that of a wife and mother, and they were expected to follow certain cardinal virtues that contributed to the perpetuation of this role, which formed the basis of the cult's ideological work. The cult of domesticity was an ideological construct which served to support the dominant authorities of the time, and only by examining the cult of domesticity (and the "angel of the house" which served as its focus) as points of intersection between religious, political, and economic power can one begin to understand how the role of women in the nineteenth century was regulated in response to historical developments that threatened male hegemony, namely, nationalist anxiety following the American Revolution and the ascendance of capitalism as the overarching political and economic structure.
Early twentieth century America is shaped by World War I , the effects of industrial growth, and a beginning of a new age in literature. Despite movements for progressive reforms like the prohibition of alcohol and the movement for women’s suffrage women’s rights were still limited by traditional gender roles. Women are a “detached portion” of their husbands and expected to submit to his every demand. As result of women being viewed as flighty and emotionally unstable, men must take the dominant role and every decision made in the family is approved by them. Moreover, the purpose of a woman’s life is to maintain a household and birth and care for her
During the early 1800's women were stuck in the Cult of Domesticity. Women had been issued roles as the moral keepers for societies as well as the nonworking house-wives for families. Also, women were considered unequal to their male companions legally and socially. However, women’s efforts during the 1800’s were effective in challenging traditional intellectual, social, economical, and political attitudes about a women’s place in society.
Thesis: A “true women” in the 19th Century was one who was domestic, religious, and chaste. These were virtues established by men but enforced and taught by other women. Women were also told that they were inferior to men and they should accept it and be grateful that someone just loved them.
In the early nineteenth century, women were expected to be, “‘angels in the house,’ loving, self-sacrificing, and chaste wives, mothers and daughters or they are… ultimately doomed” (King et al. 23). Women of this time were supposed to be domestic creatures and not tap so far into their intellectual abilities (King et al.). The role of women in the nineteenth century is described:
Throughout the evolution of the world’s societies, the roles of women seem to act as a reflection of the time period since they set the tones for the next generation. Regardless of their own actions, women generally appear to take on a lower social standing and receive an altered treatment by men. In Mark Twain’s pre-civil war novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, lies a display of how society treats and views women, as well as how they function in their roles, specifically in regards to religion and molding the minds and futures of children. The novel’s showcase of women affords them a platform and opportunity to better see their own situation and break away with a new voice.
Despite being under the rule of a female monarch, women faced many inequalities and suffering during the Victorian age. Examples of these inequalities include not having the right to vote, unequal educational and employment opportunities. Women were even denied the legal right to divorce in most cases. As the Norton Anthology states, these debates over women’s rights and their roles came to be known as the “woman question” by the Victorians. This lead to many conflicting struggles, such as the desire by all for women to be educated, yet they are denied the same opportunities afforded to men. While these women faced these difficulties, there was also the notion that women should be domestic and feminine. There was an ideal that women should be submissive and pure because they are naturally different. The industrial revolution introduced women into the labor workforce, but there was still a conflict between the two identities; one of an employed woman, and one of a domestic housewife.