The Nineteenth Century Perception Of Women Essay

The Nineteenth Century Perception Of Women Essay

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The nineteenth century perception of women was not flattering. During this time period, men were expected to work and provide for their family while women cared for the home. Men were also viewed as naturally superior beings while women were subordinate to men. Nineteenth century people regarded women as weak and childish creatures. In contrast, they saw men as the strong and more intelligent gender. These views of gender pervaded the minds of many nineteenth century people. However, there were some who openly did not agree with the gender inequality present in the nineteenth century. Charlotte Gillman, Sarah Grimke, and Kate Chopin are just some of the voices that raised up in protest to these commonly held notions about gender. Some of the ways their voices were heard were through published letters and short stories. Nineteenth century gender inequality was also included in the more modern-day writings of historians like Barbara Welter. Barbara Welter’s The Cult of True Womanhood highlights the nineteenth century perception of women that is present in Charlotte’s Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Although, Gilman’s short story may seem to be a tale of feminine weakness, it functions as the embodiment of the nineteenth century movement for gender equality supported by Sarah Grimke’s Letter on the Equality of Sexes and the Condition of Woman.
Barbara Welter’s Cult of True Womanhood illustrates the idea of female submissiveness, present in the nineteenth century, present in Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper. According to Welter, “Submission was perhaps the most feminine virtue expected of women” (152) of the nineteenth century. Thus society viewed submissive women as upright individuals. Therefore, submission was something t...

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...Through these assertions, Grimke also condemns the nineteenth century view of women as unnatural and implies the need for reform.
The importance of the Reform that both Grimke and Gilman both advocate is one that does not cost money. It is a reform in society’s thinking. The dangers of the absence or reform is clearly presented through Gilman’s short story. The picture that both writers portray of the nineteenth century rampant gender inequality is not flattering. However, the belief that the both seem to express for the possibility of reform shed hope in the nineteenth century. Despite this, many nineteenth century conceptions of women are still prevalent in today’s society. However, the degree to which these notions are expressed is a lot smaller in the current century then in the nineteenth one. Thus, Grimke’s and Gilman’s call for reform was eventually heeded.

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