Confrontation of Gender Roles in the Works of Mill, Tennyson, and Woolf

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Confrontation of Gender Roles in the Works of Mill, Tennyson, and Woolf

Although women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries faced oppression and unequal treatment, some people strove to change common perspectives on the feminine sex. John Stuart Mill, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Virginia Woolf were able to reach out to the world, through their literature, and help change the views that society held towards women and their roles within its structure. During the Victorian era, women were bound to domestic roles and were very seldom allowed to seek other positions. Most men and many women felt that if women were allowed to pursue interests, outside traditional areas of placement that they would be unable to be an attentive wife and mother. The conventional roles of women were kept in place by long standing values and beliefs that held to a presumption, in which, women were inferior to men in every way. In The Subjection of Women, The Lady of Shalott, and A Room of One's Own, respectively, these authors define their views on the roles women are forced to play in society, and why they are not permitted to step outside those predetermined boundaries.

John Stuart Mill, in his essay The Subjection of Women, makes a daring exclamation about the position of women in society. He wrote this piece with the hope of opening other's eyes to the same conclusion he felt all of his life, in regards to equality.

The principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes--the legal subordination of one sex to the other--is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other. (1156)

The Subjection of ...

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...ction of Women." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000. 1156-1165.

Pedersen, Joyce S. "Love, Politics, and the Victorians: Liberal Feminism and the Politics of Social Integration" The European Legacy 4.6 (1999) 42-57.

Pyle, Andrew, ed. The Subjection of Women: Contemporary Responses to John Stuart Mill. Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1995.

Rosenman, Ellen Bayuk. A Room of One's Own: Women Writers and the Politics of Creativity. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. "The Lady of Shalott." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000. 1204-1208.

Woolf, Virginia. "A Room of One's Own." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000. 2153-2214.
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