Gender Roles In The Age Of Enlightenment, The Romantic Era, And The Modern Era

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When exploring the evolution of gender roles overtime, it’s clear that the most effective gender role revolutions have occurred at the hands of single revolutionary figures that saw injustice and vowed to fight it. There have been several key figures that have played a crucial role in overthrowing the gender norms of each time period. I’ll be focusing my attention on gender roles in 3 significantly different time periods: the Age of Enlightenment, the Romantic Era, and the Modern Era. These time periods represent clear and unique ideological stakes, and the transitions between them have highlighted some radical figures in history that are responsible for the gender roles we have in society today.
The first significant change in thought processes was during the 18th century, when the Age of Enlightenment came about. It was known for being the “Age of Reason”. It was a time of progress. For the first time in hundreds of years, it promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and questioning authoritarian figures. It was a period of revolution in human thought, and began to break the bond between religion and science. Scientific discoveries were embraced, while the corruptions and hypocrisies of the church were finally questioned. There were basic beliefs inspired by texts such as Kant’s What is Enlightenment, where the idea of independent thinking and questioning authority were raised. The authority of the Church, divine right of the monarch to rule, and the aristocratic privilege were all questioned. However, going even further was a woman who spoke out against the oppressed and restrictive status of women in society. Mary Wollstonecraft was a revolutionary figure, by all counts.
To understand why Wollstonecraft’s opinions and act...

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...f the 19th and 20th century. While there were no major changes made in gender roles, Wollstonecraft and other female role models who attempted to bring attention and change to the inequality between men and women were the stepping-stones for future feminists.
Moving ahead a few decades takes us to the Romantic Era, which was the first half of the 19th century. There was a huge surge in portraying gender roles in literature and art. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre portrays a great depiction of gender roles during this time period. Jane Eyre is a Victorian Era novel. The Romantic Era and the Victorian Era overlap a number of years, so Jane Eyre does encompass ideas of both eras. However, what’s important about the novel is the progressive depiction of women and how it deviates from the norm. A central theme of the novel is the patriarchal society that Jane lives in.

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