Sexuality in the Victorian Era in Sarah Raul´s In the Next Room

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Women of today are not the women of yesterday. Women have undergone a theatrical transformation which makes them bold, independent, and free-spirited beings. A voice that was once suppressed no longer can be tamed; this is illustrated through the rise of both male and female playwrights who continue to reinvent the role of women as more than “man’s other”. In her book, “Modern Drama by Women, 1880s-1930s: An International Anthology,” author Katherine Kelly references a quote by scholar Carrie Chapman Catt, that beautifully frames the transformative state women have undergone. According to Chapman: “Women are organizing, speaking, working … [and] it is now a crucial time, when our Western help may give impetus and permanence to the movement …show more content…

Additionally, women were condemned from participating in sexual activities outside of the confinements of marriage. In the book, Sex Tips for Husbands and Wives from 1894, Victorian author Ruth Smythers, outlines the guideline on how women should endure sex. For instance she notes: 1. THE wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly — and as time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency. Feigned illness, sleepiness and headaches are among her best friends in this matter.” 2. A WISE wife will make it her goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. 3. WHEN he finds her, she should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness. 4. IF he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he lifts her gown and attempts to kiss her any place else she should quickly pull the gown back in place, spring from the bed, and announce that nature calls her to the toilet (Smythers). Smythers’ book serves as a lens into the inner-workings of sexual life for a married Victorian women; moreover, it is evident that they were constricted from exploring their sexuality. Raul uses this ignorance as a pretense to the emergence of sexuality

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