Women in the Religious Society of Deptford

Powerful Essays
First Main Point: Women who violate the norms and values of the religious society of Deptford are judged harshly and are subjected to cruel punishment.

Sub-point 1: The narrow minded views of the townspeople make them quick to judge women who are “different” .

Mary Dempster is an excellent example of someone who is different and does not embody the values of Deptford society. She is the young, light-hearted wife of the Baptist preacher. She is considered to be somewhat simple-minded and unsuitable as a minister’s wife because she lacks interest and aptitude for housekeeping and cooking and laughs like a girl at her own failures when she tries do such things. Also, her generous nature makes her incapable of living within her husband’s income. Instead of being thrifty, she is more interested in giving things away. On one occasion, she gives away an ornamental vase that the Church had provided as part of the furnishings of their house. This action causes a big uproar because the villagers view this as stealing from her husband’s Church. Mary Dempster’s kindness and generosity of spirit are definitely viewed by them as major character flaws.

Also, as noted by the Bookrags study guide, Mary’s refusal to take her husband’s fears and securities seriously and her positive attidude and faith that life will work out for the best are not looked upon favourably by the villagers. They believe she is too simple and silly to understand her husband’s fears.

When breast-feeding her infant, Mary is not concerned about covering up. Thus she is viewed as having no sense, and “opinion grew that [she] was simple.” (p. 27)

Sub-point 2: Women who violate the moral law are ostracized and subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.


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...expand, he realizes that marrying the prettiest girl in town is not such a valuable trophy after all. Although Leola has beauty, she lacks the social graces necessary for her to be the wife of the prominent man like Boy Staunton. Despite his efforts to improve her by making her take tennis lessons, play bridge, reform her speech and grammar, she is not able to live up to the expectations. Boy develops a high standard for her because he treats her like an object: “his idea of a wife for himself would have had the beauty and demeanour of Lady Diana Manners coupled with the wit of Margot Asquith” (p. 154).

Leola’s complete devotion to Boy combines with her weak character to make her ineffective in dealing with Boy’s domination of her. When Boy sees that she cannot ever be what he wants her to be, he neglects her and is unfaithful.

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