Authors Joyce Goodman and Sylvia Harrop explain the idea of gender in roles from a time closer to Jane Austen’s in their book Within Marked Boundaries; women and the making of educational policy since 1800.
What is within the boundaries of the feminine is always considered to have less status and power and is always subordinate and marginal—women always remain ‘other’. I perceive feminism as a part of the process of challenging the boundaries of the socially constructed role for women in our society—a process which through struggle will create for women a different notion of the normal and natural and a different tradition of being female. (Goodman, Harrop 4)
Like Goodman and Harrop explain, women were often subordinate in nineteenth century England. In effort to show the ludicrousness of gender roles, Austen used her characters to dispel ideas like the want of ...
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...nothing will come of “teasing” her husband. As with many issues of the times, what was naturally expected of men and women often was not what men and women wanted. Too frequently, one sex dictated what was natural for the other sex.
"So you and I are to be left to shift by ourselves, with this poor sick child; and not a creature coming near us all the evening! I knew how it would be. This is always my luck. If there is anything disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it…”
Mary also makes grandiose assumptions that all men are like her husband. She takes her beliefs about men’s natures from one man, assuming everyone is the same as Charles. But, Austen doesn’t satirically shred the idea of gender roles, she introduces concepts that men and women, though naturally different, are equal because of their innate ability to learn, regardless of gender.
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