Sylvia Plath 's The Bell Jar

1758 Words8 Pages
According to The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, “There was much debate concerning the proper place of women and the ideal characteristics of femininity throughout the nineteenth century” (610). The Victorian Era formally followed the reign of Queen Victoria in England from 1837 to 1901, but the era is not so rigidly set. The ideologies, values, and mores associated with the Victorian Era were present before Queen Victoria, and then followed into America and also lived sixty years past its recorded date of death. In the United States during the 1950s and 60s, the idea of femininity was still being explored, just as it was a century prior in another country. Women in the Victorian Era and in 1950s and 1960s America experienced…show more content…
In the Victorian Era, men served as the head and face of all laws; therefore, women were tyrannized by men through the law because man and law were inextricably linked together. All women were expected to marry, so most oppressions took place within the marriage. Once a woman married a man, she abandoned a part of herself. According to the Broadview Anthology of British Literature, “The common law doctrine of overture ensured that a woman’s legal identity was subsumed in that of her husbands upon marriage. In effect, the law of coverture regarded the husband and wife as ‘one person:’ the husband” (508). Women had no identity or purpose beyond that of her husband. After marriage, she was stripped of her former self only to then function as an add-on to his more “superior” person. Additionally, with the power that deemed the male as the dominant counterpart, men were granted “full control of his wife’s personal property and any earnings she acquired during the marriage” (Broadview Anthology 508). For a Victorian woman, to join a man in holy matrimony was to sign away all autonomy.
Moreover, women received pressures from the law and from society: “The idea that women ought to be subordinate to her husband was not only a matter of social expectation; it was also
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