According to Judeo-Christian tradition, divine edict clearly relegates women to a position of subservience beneath men, as expressed in the Genesis creation account. This idea of female servility has dominated Western culture for thousands of years with virtually no significant changes; only in the past several decades has the notion of male dominance lost wide-spread acceptance in America. Prior to this cultural shift, American ideology mandated that women dutifully obey their husbands and confine themselves to managing the home and raising children, thus depriving them of any power beyond the sphere of the home and rendering them dependent on their husbands. This mentality is especially apparent in the movie, The Sound of Music.
In The Sound of Music, female characters are portrayed to be highly dependent upon men, a central aspect of the "traditional" woman's role. This is initially shown in the scene where Ralph and Liesl are singing and dancing in the gazebo. Liesl sings that she is "scared to face a world of men" and would like to depend on Ralph in order to alleviate her fear. Ralph acknowledges and accepts her submission, telling Liesl that since he is "older and wiser" he will take care of her. Liesl offers to submit herself to Ralph in accordance with her preconceived notion of male-female relationships, thus fulfilling her yearning of security in social normalcy. She is willing to become dependent upon Ralph and cross the threshold into traditional womanhood.
Although she may wear a mask of independence, Maria also fills the role of the traditional woman. Independence can be measured by the amount of control one has over her own life, and, if Maria's control over herself is analyzed, it is clear that she lacks independence. Initially, Maria appears to be independent when she ignores the Captain's prescriptions for stern child raising and defies his direct orders by making the children "play clothes". When Maria is reprimanded for her actions, she stands up to the Captain, criticizing the way he raises his children. Through these actions, Maria seems to deviate from stereotypical feminine behavior by challenging the Captain's authority, however, upon closer examination, such is not the case. The children are traditionally the woman's responsibility and are a matter over which she is supposed to have control.