Women, as compared to men, are seen as minuscule. Women are expected to completely surrender all aspects of their life to men, while still being the emotional backbone of the family. Society sometimes thinks that women can only hold jobs as housekeepers, maids, or some other type of demeaning job. They are not afforded the opportunity to ever gain any high positions. Not only should they be allowed to gain a higher level of authority; but also gain the respect they deserve.
In the book Persuasion, Jane Austen uses multiple characters, to portray how poorly women were treated in the 19th century and how they are taken for granted. In the early 19th century women did not have a big role in society. They were treated as if they had little importance compared to a man. They were seen as second-class citizens. In the book, Mary focuses on how to climb the social ladder. As stated by Neubauer, “Society has defiled the understanding of what nature has intended women to do, and thus they were often regarded as not fulfilling their natural role” (Neubauer 126).
Women not only were expected to complete a certain task; such as cleaning, taking care of the children, and keeping the house clean but also used as a bedwarmer for their husbands. Basically, women were characterized as “typical stay-at-home wives. ” In reality, women were seen as invaluable and totally financially dependent on their husbands. Anne, another character in Persuasion, marries Wentworth, which makes her financially stable in society. If Anne had not married Wentworth she would have remained single, and not necessarily poor, but unstable financially.
Posusta agrees that “Women in the 19th century learned their place at an early age. Women received the small amount of education afforded to them under the tutelage of their father, brothers, and guidebooks that were specifically designed to school them on how they should occupy space physically, socially and psychologically”(Posusta 76). Women in those days were sent off to finishing schools to teach them how to succumb to a man’s every wish. Having said this, men thought they were teaching women all they needed to know to get ahead in society, but they were wrong.
Women, as well as men, had a right to an education! Posusta also reflects on the fact that “The gender of room in the 18th and 19th century was a product of patriarchal ideas about domestic and public spaces” (Posusta 76). Men and women generally pursue an interest in separate spheres. Because of this, the Victorian period proved that women and men had different aspirations and their ambitions should not be decided by anyone except themselves, therefore separated and different. Men were typically thought of as powerful, active, brave, independent, ambitious, and clean.
On the other hand, women were thought of as typical, weak, passive, timid, and pure. In the book, Mary Elliot Musgrove was a very materialist individual. She focused more on climbing the social ladder instead of taking care and paying attention to her child. She cared more about what people thought of her than anything. Because of her intent to satisfy others, she was very sensitive; some might say hysterical. “In Persuasion, Austen deliberately created a problem with space” (Posusta 76). Neubauer agrees with Posusta in that they both feel the same.
Neubauer states that “Although Anne readily admits that men occupy the world far more dangerously than most women, but men are offered this opportunity, women are not. This distinction is what causes women to cling more tightly to their feelings and to the men they live vicariously through” (Neubauer 132). In society, men are typically offered more and better positions and things in life than women. The opportunity for a male to achieve greatness is simple and they actually succeed nine times out of ten. Also in Persuasion, Anne’s family thought lowly of her and misunderstood her; they saw little value in her.
Back in those days, a woman had to demean herself because “marriage exemplified the burden a woman faced with choosing the socially acceptable but morally repugnant option of marrying a man she does not love” (Neubauer 130). Austen uses her characters to reinforce gender back in those days. Some characters can be considered subversive, such as Anne. Women were expected to listen and just follow everything they were told. When a woman becomes one with herself and really finally realizes what she wants to do with herself and can make decisions on her own, then she can cross those boundaries that want to make her obsolete or minuscule.
An example of that would be when Lady Russell and Sir Walter both came over and Mr. Elliot and Anne didn’t quite trust him. Anne’s instinct was telling her not to trust Mr. Elliot and that he was lying about things. She didn’t quite have evidence of his untruths but she felt it. Despite what her family felt or Lady Russell’s opinion, Ann still trusted her own judgment. Before Anne even went to Bath, she was very outspoken. After Ann gets to Bath, she becomes more confident and she does what she wants. In Bath, she acted like a whole new person, which no one expected from her because she was such an obedient person.
Anne finally earns her happy ending after passionately speaking on behalf of women’s feelings in comparison to men declaring that society restrictions cause women more emotional hardship than men” (Neubauer 132). Lady Elliot, which is Anne’s mother, is in charge of Kellynch Hall. She is what you would expect from a woman back in the 18th century. She loved her family, her children, husband and everyone. Captain Fredrick Wentworth is a welleducated and wealthy man. He is what you would call a stable man. He is the typical breadwinner/working man. Everyone likes him and respects him. He is also a nature lover.
When Anne cancels her engagement Wentworth judges her and by her being persuaded to do so he thinks of her like a wimp and she is very gullible and easily persuaded. Women’s role wasn’t important to a male. Wentworth thought of her as a wimp and being very gullible. Women went through this a lot trying to have their voices to heard and thoughts to be seen. Wentworth’s mindset towards women isn’t necessarily negative but by him thinking of Anne like this shows how meaningless and worthless males would think of a woman. Men thought as females to stay at home and cook and clean and be with the kids all day.
It is not that women couldn’t do anything else or even be successful it’s that women were brought up and taught that men are active than women which are not true. “The idea that the novel’s dialectical imagination stages a confrontation between female-gendered modernizing forces and male-gendered traditional one” (Solinger 274). It can be argued whether Austen’s writings are feminist or more relatable to male or female. In the late 19th century it was not very common for women to write. Women writers weren’t being taken as serious as men writers.
Women back in this time didn’t have much or no education or even a legal status and social standing as males did. In fact, the only work a woman was able to get were trading clothes, teaching, and nursing. The way Austen portrays Anne and the other characters in the story it can be considered that her writing is Feminist because she shows and talks about how women were treated and how different the genders are without actually saying how different they are. She creates somewhat of a story line for each character to tell their story. “Nursing does not belong to a man; it is not his province.
A sick child is always the mother’s property: her own feelings generally make it so” (Austen 67). When Mary speaks about how men don’t care or nourish for their children Anne’s response is very accurate. You would expect her to respond the way she did being that women were raised to think that, women were the only ones to take care of children, which is not true. Before Anne respond the way she did Mary was talking to her saying men shouldn’t get away with the things they do and refers to them as Slippery meaning you can’t hold them down or force them to do anything.
Women shouldn’t have to do all the work themselves. Taking care of children shouldn’t mainly be a woman’s job. Both genders should be able to provide and do what’s right for their children because it took two people to have a child, not one. Being a female back in the 18th century was very challenging and I don’t think they get the credit that they deserve for being so powerful and persistent after constantly being told they can’t do something or with everything you have to do has to be feminine such as taking care of children.
Being feminine or masculine doesn’t determine who you are as a person. At birth your put into these boxes with being a male you were associated with work and providing for your family and being a female you already expected to stay and clean the house cook and take care of your children. Who was to say a woman couldn’t take on a job that a male would typically do such as working in a factor or even working out in the field providing for her family.