Women’s Self-Discovery During Late American Romanticism / Early Realism

Women’s Self-Discovery During Late American Romanticism / Early Realism

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When we think of women writers today we see successful, gifted and talented women. Although these women writers have been established for sometime their status of contributions to society has only been recognized way too late. During the late romantic/early realism period numerous women found success in writing despite the fact that they may have encountered numerous obstacles in their path. The characters these women wrote about almost have a kinship with themselves bringing out certain personality traits not seen written about women before. From these traits a voice emerges in literature that has been hidden from the public view. This new true voice of female self-discovery finally comes out for the public to see in numerous works of that day. Courage, independence and emotional portrayal are the pivotal key traits that make up their self-discovery in the works of numerous female writers such as Gilman, Freeman, Woolson, and Chopin.

These women writers were writing in the day where women were taught to maintain their place in society and family. After the Civil War “the homosocial world of women’s culture began to dissolve as women demanded entrance to higher education, the professions, and the political world” (Showalter 67). The roles of housewife and society maiden that were created by society did not allow for any room of expression by these women. The lack of women who at this time were seeking a higher education or pursuing the arts was very small. If they did not come from a family who supported them in their quest than most likely they did not get the chance to pursue their dreams. If a woman did want to extend their learning most of the time they did it in secrecy. A woman artist...


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Kahane, Claire. Passions of the Voice. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology, Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001.

Showalter, Elaine. Sister’s Choice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Toth, Emily. Introduction. A Vocation and a Voice. By Kate Chopin. New York: Penguin Book, 1991. vii-xxvi.

Toth, Emily. Unveiling Kate Chopin. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.

Treichler, Paula A. “Language and Ambiguity.” The Awakening, A Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Margo Culley.

Woolsen, Constance Fenimore. “Miss Grief.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Sixth Edition. Ed. Nina Baym.

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