In The Natural Daughter and The Wrongs of Woman, it is the societal norm for the protection woman through marriage. However, it is portrayed in both novels that marriage is an oppressive state for the woman and affords her little rights. Maria, Wollstonecraft’s heroine, is sent away to an asylum, her daughter ripped away from her, and Robinson’s Martha is cast away from her house due to mere speculation and the fear that she has ruined the image of her husband.
Neither woman, Maria or Martha, enters into marriage due to love. Both characters have subjected their selves into marriage as a means of necessity. Martha’s parents are traditional and have no regard or patience for her non-compliance. Maria’s family situation is unpleasant as a stepmother has taken to creating an impossible environment for her, and thus her uncle arranges a marriage with a man that is believed to be respectable.
Martha is not an obedient subject of her husband and proclaims, “[m]arriage… is little better than slavery. I detest the thought of enforced subordination!” (Robinson 130). Martha, a woman of intelligence and free thought, will not merely follow her husband’s orders and will blindly. This non co...
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...ray holder (Robinson 49). For a woman it was nearly impossible to rise above herself, without the help of marriage. Even if a menial position is her only aspiration, she will still face every obstacle. While a cookmaid is a respectable position, she will still not make the same as a man, and not be treated as an equal. A footman may be in presence with the family at times, but the cookmaid spends nearly all of her time in the kitchen, out of sight.
In the society of the 18th century, there were few options for a woman to better herself. Ridicule and despair were ever-present for any woman who refused conformity to the contracts of marriage. To be a successful woman of the century, a woman must commit herself to the protection of another. Women were oppressed by the total control of husbands, the absence of decent job prospects, and the lack of proper recommendation.
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