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Choose Three Stories from the Collection and Comment on How They Illustrate the Position of Women in Late Nineteenth Century Society.

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Introduction

Matthew Mckittrick Highfield High School 28/09/2003 Choose Three Stories from the Collection and Comment on How They Illustrate the Position of Women in Late Nineteenth Century Society. In this essay I am going to give a brief summary of three stories from a collection we have read and then look in detail at and comment on how they portray the position of women in the nineteenth century. All the stories we read were taken from the book, 'Nineteenth Century Short Stories'. The three I have chosen to look at in more detail and use in this essay are, 'The Unexpected' by Kate Chopin, 'A Woman's Rose' by Olive Schreiner and 'Tony Kytes, The Arch-Deceiver' by Thomas Hardy. The first story is 'The Unexpected' by Kate Chopin. This story is about a betrothed couple who appear to be deeply in love. The two main characters in the story are the couple, Randall and Dorothea. When Randall had to leave for a while, they sent "daily impassioned" letters to each other and seem to miss each other a great deal. They were a very passionate couple and there was obviously a great physical desire; when Randall left there were "lingering kisses and sighs" their behavior would also have been seen as inappropriate and been frowned upon during the nineteenth century. ...read more.

Middle

She also liked the power she held over the men who would do anything she commanded them to "I was like a child with a new whip." Olive Schreiner was obviously a great believer in the strength of women and had a lot of hope that in the future women would have more rights in society. From this story it appears that women were treated as items, as objects, as a craze that would pass from one woman to the next; when one woman gets a little bit older and the men get a little bit bored of her, all the attention would pass to the younger, better looking model. Men at this time thought so little of women they thought that they could be bought or bribed into marriage. They thought that whoever could buy her the most flowers or offer her the most extravagant, expensive gifts would be the champion and win the woman's hand in marriage. In this story they underestimated both the women concerned. Of all the things in the narrators in the narrator's box the item with the greatest significance to her is the withered white rose. The rose to her is symbolic of the special value of female friendship. It reminds her of the strength of women in a society dominated by men's rules and power. ...read more.

Conclusion

All decisions were made for them and for a woman to make decisions for herself and to be independent was completely unheard of. Women had no real control over their own lives and they had very limited choices. Women were expected to conform to the rules of society and many of them had a desire to do so but they were torn between that and their own needs and desires. I personally think, Women were treated unfairly and the way they were treated was quite wrong. Even in the nineteenth century women should have been treated like they are today; with equal rights, able to make their own decisions, have freedom of thought and speech and don't feel oppressed when it comes to sharing their opinions. But most of all they have their own independence. Of the three, my favorite story was 'Tony Kytes, The Arch-Deceiver'. This was my favorite, probably because I found it humorous but at the same time quite astonishing in that, now women have the rights they do, there is no way this could happen in modern day society. It was obvious from the beginning that Tony was going to get caught out in the end. At the time, I think this story might have been a comedy, but at the same time as having a comedy outline, the story also dealt with issues that in the nineteenth century would have been acceptable but today would be seen as chauvinistic and unacceptable. 1 ...read more.

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