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These stories were all written pre-1914, show how the authors have exploited the position of women during that period and explore the social causes of women and their attitudes towards marriage.

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Introduction

These stories were all written pre-1914, show how the authors have exploited the position of women during that period and explore the social causes of women and their attitudes towards marriage (change title). Women were described, under the law as "legally incompetent and irresponsible." A married woman was entitled to no legal security in any matter, unless it was sponsored and approved by her husband. This meant that Victorian brides were stripped of all their property and personal wealth. All this wealth was then made possession of their husbands. The Victorian woman was her husband's slave. She was completely dependent upon him and subject to him. She had no right to sue for divorce or to have custody of her children, if the couple should separate. She could not make a will or keep her earnings. Her area of expertise was in the home as mother, homemaker and a devoted domestic. No greater shame took place in the Victorian woman's life than in the bedroom. The Victorian woman had no right to her own body, as she was not allowed to refuse conjugal duties. In Victorian marriage the husband was the family protector and representative. However, he who was expected to protect, often became the abuser in the bedroom. Elizabeth Gaskell is a very descriptive writer and very personal in her stories. In her story "Half Brothers", there was a lot of personal influence. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly Helen had no choice but to marry William Preston. It was crucial that Helen had financial security for herself and her son. The author has explained that her only means of survival was marriage. "With half the stock dead, or sold off one by one to pay pressing debts, and with no money to purchase more, or even to buy the provision needed for the small consumption of everyday." She married William Preston out of desperation not love. Another reason for this marriage, is that it was necessary for (Gregory) her fist child to have a father's shadow (change this). In my opinion, if Helen had not married William then society would look at her and judge her as they judged Gertrude in The Withered arm written by Thomas Hardy. Society will also look down on her as a poor lower class mother with a fatherless child. In the pre-1914 century there was not a lot of birth control for example; medical help. If there was medical help it would be too expensive and could not afford it. Many mothers would die giving birth as it was unhealthy, unsupervised and they could simply catch diseases. "At the end of it, it was that my mother took her bed before her time." Helen had died giving birth to Gregory. She had died "before her time" meaning she died at and early age. Sometimes Aunt Fanny thought that Helen did not want to live and "let herself die away". ...read more.

Conclusion

The author has once more shown Helen's love that she may have in this quotation. "Grave sort of kindliness, she looked up in his face and smiled almost her first smile at him, such a sweet smile!" This shows facial expression and body language towards him. Alliteration is used "sweet smile" which may well have effect on the reader by feeling that the smile was from inside of her not just a front. William blames Gregory for Helen's death. He "cherished" the feeling of alienating Gregory. "I believe my father rather cherished his feeling of alienation to my brother as a duty, than strove to repress it." The author shows William's loathe towards Gregory and decides not hold back his feelings. The author described Gregory to show the reader what his character is like. "Gregory was lumpish and loutish, awkward and ungainly, marring whatever he meddled in" This quote shows Gregory's behaviour in whatever he "meddled" in and how he was always got a "sharp scolding" from people around the farm. Now that Helen has died William needs a woman to look after two little children. Who would more preferable than Aunt Fanny? "What could he do with two little children; he needed a woman to take care of him." This for a second time portrays society at the time, and how they would expect a woman to care of children and the man. But society now has the education for a single parent male to look after himself and his child(ren). ...read more.

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