Stereotypes Of Women In Great Expectations

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In Manners Makyth Man, Reverand E.J. Hardy said “Sweetness is to woman what sugar is to fruit. It is her first business to be happy - a sunbeam in the house, making others happy. True, she will often have ‘a tear in her eye’, but, like the bride of young Lochinvar, it must be accompanied with ‘a smile on her lips,” (Haluk). Women in the Victorian Era were expected to be everything a man wasn’t. They were expected to grow up with no education but of that which taught them how to be a young lady. From the moment a young girl was born, she had her whole future and personality already planned out for her; she would be ignorant, docile, domestic, nurturing, and one day, beautiful in all ways without meaning. In the novel Great Expectations, Dickens…show more content…
Havisham and her broken heart, Estella and her inability to love, Biddy and her eagerness to learn, and Mrs. Joe Gargery: a woman that acts as if everyone is indebted to her, there would be no Great Expectations. Charles Dickens portrays some of the women in Great Expectations according to how they were stereotyped in society, but a majority are false representations of what the common woman was like in the Victorian Era, just as women today are stereotyped as one thing when they are really another.
The ideal woman in the Victorian Era was created around the belief that women were fragile dolls that could be manipulated and toyed with due to their inferiority to men. “By law, a woman was the property of her father, husband or even her brother,” (Haluk). Women were not allowed to be their own person. They could not own property (Thomas) or do anything outside of the home without their “owner” or another married woman (Hughes). They had to do all the work in the home and even though they were not labeled this way, many could be considered slaves to the men in their household. Others were trophies that their husbands wanted to keep polished. A woman also needed to be “innocent, virtuous, biddable, dutiful and ignorant of intellectual opinion,” (Thomas). Women in the Victorian Era were expected to be
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Joe and Miss. Havisham are terrible representations of a Victorian woman. “A woman was literally the servant of her children and husband, and she was required to be domestic, nurturing and docile,” (Haluk). In Mrs. Joe’s home, she is the boss and takes great pride in the fact that she raised Pip by hand and has threatened to do the same to her husband. This shows that Mrs. Joe is quite the opposite of what the everyday Victorian woman was like in the home. Instead, Mrs. Joe is more like some women today where it is not unacceptable for a woman to order around her children and husband . Miss. Havisham didn't take care of Estella the way most mothers would have. “Or,’ said Estella, ‘-which is a nearer case-if you had taught her [Estella], from the dawn of her intelligence, with your utmost energy and might, that there was such a thing as daylight, but that it was made to be her enemy and destroyer, and she must always turn against it, for it had blighted you and would else blight her-if you had done this, and then, for a purpose, had wanted her to take naturally to the daylight and she could not do it, you would have been disappointed and angry,” (Dickens, 326). Instead of nurturing her and teaching her what love feels like, she showed her what pain was and created a weapon that would kill any man she touched. In chapter eight of Great Epectations, Miss. Havisham says to Pip, “You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born,” (Dickens, 60).
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