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The Repression of Women in Victorian Society as Shown in 19th Century Literature

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Introduction

The Repression of Women in Victorian Society as Shown in 19th Century Literature. 19th century literature reflects to a certain extent, several ways in which women were repressed in Victorian society. They were considered inferior to men, and given a stereotypical image, showing them as gentle, loyal and angelic. They were rejected of any personal opinions or independence, for these were only a man's privilege. Class and status also affected women of the era. Evidence for these and further repressions can be found in the short stories of 19th century writers. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper', which relates partially to her own personal experiences as a woman under her husbands overwhelming influence. Charles Dickens' story 'The Black Veil' also displays a view on women, as does 'The Monkey's Paw' by W. W. Jacobs, which can be portrayed as a male-dominated narrative. Comparisons and contrasts can be made between these two novels, and 'The Yellow Wallpaper'. ...read more.

Middle

'The Black Veil' can also relate to this ignorant attitude. From this story, a na�ve 'young medial practitioner, is the narrative, ignoring the suffering of a distraught woman, for he feels he knows best. As well the doctor seeks a wife who will 'gladden his lonely fireside, and stimulate him to fresh exertions', just as the physician in 'The Yellow Wallpaper' who wishes to have an obedient and proper wife. Here we can see that women were secondary in a household, as the dominant males need them for their accompaniment and to understand and obey their proposals. 'The Monkey's Paw' another male-dominated narrative, shows the wife's characteristics and role in the household. We are firstly told that she is 'knitting placidly by the fire'. This is a very proper and feminine activity of the time, and the word 'placid' shows that she is calm and relaxed. She also refers to Mr. White as 'dear' and is soothing in her reassuring words, 'perhaps you'll win the next one', as if to simply make him feel comfortable and content. ...read more.

Conclusion

The story shows the suffering of lower class women, who are left without any aid, in 'denial' and 'anxiety'. We can also see the woman in the 'Yellow Wallpaper' left with only her own imagination and the wallpaper, making her rebel mentally against her husbands influence, so he eventually becomes 'that man', instead of John. He 'stopped short by the door' when he saw her improper state, he had lost his dominant stature, for he could no longer have any power over her actions or thoughts. The stories altogether show that Victorian women were very much under the influence of men and their suggestions in their thoughts and actions. They were also taught to have certain qualities, expected of them by men. Several 19th century stories however, although showing this perception of women, have contributed to an alteration of attitudes towards women. Writers such as Dickens and Charlotte Perkins Gilman have helped provide 20th century women onwards, with a fairer, equal society, by highlighting female repression in their stories. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lucy Mitchell ...read more.

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