Essay European History - Societal Roles of Eighteenth Century Women

Essay European History - Societal Roles of Eighteenth Century Women

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European History - Societal Roles of Eighteenth Century Women

Throughout European history, women have struggled endlessly to become the intellectual and social equals of their male counterparts. After hundreds of years of physical labor, housekeeping, child rearing and many other difficult tasks, women’s attitudes about their place in life began to change. In the last few years of the eighteenth century (after tough and troubled decades) possible beginnings of early women’s rights were born when society began to evaluate the education and potential of women as a social class.

Up until the late 1700’s most middle class women lived tedious and harsh lives without advantages of education or opportunities for alternative lifestyles. Most families were unable to survive on only one income. Therefore women and children worked as well, often doing the same or similar jobs as their fathers and husbands. Much of the time women worked while caring for a small child or multiple children and the average number of offspring was seven1[1]. An old English woman recalled her experience:

“I used to be employed when I apprenticed in driving bullocks to the field and fetching them in again; cleaning out their houses and bedding them up; washing potatoes and boiling them for pigs; milking in the field, leading horses or bullocks to plough… I was employed in mixing lime to spread, digging potatoes, digging and pulling turnips, and anything that came to hand… I reaped a little, not much; loaded pack horses, went out with horses for furze. I got up at five or six, except on market mornings twice a week, and then at three. I went to bed at half-past nine2[2].”

Urban women were not restricted to agricultural employment and ...

... middle of paper ...

...ince 1750 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 21
8 Patricia Branca, Women in Europe since 1750 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 80
9 Patricia Branca, Women in Europe since 1750 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 83
10 Patricia Branca, Women in Europe since 1750 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 83
11 Patricia Branca, Women in Europe since 1750 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 88
12 Michele Cohen, The Accomplishment of the Eighteenth Century Lady (New York: Routledge, 1996), 1
13 Michele Cohen, The Accomplishment of the Eighteenth Century Lady (New York: Routledge, 1996), 1
14 Michele Cohen, The Accomplishment of the Eighteenth Century Lady (New York: Routledge, 1996), 3
15 Abbie L. Cory, Women, Rebellion, and Republicanism: The United Irish Risings of 1798 and 1803 (Texas: Texas Tech University Press, 2001), 16

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