Women And Men Of The Victorian Era

1772 words - 7 pages

The Victorian era established strict guidelines and definitions for the ladies and gentleman. Noble birth typically defined one as a "lady" or a "gentleman," but for women in this time period, socioeconomic rank and titles held no prestige or special privileges in a male-dominated society. Commonly, women in this era generally tried to gain more influence and respect but to no avail as their male counterparts controlled the ideals and practices of society. Women were subject to these ideals and practices without any legal or social rights or privileges. In the literary titles by Frances Power Cobbe, Sarah Stickney Ellis, Charlotte Bronte, Anne Bronte, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Sir Henry Newbolt, and Caroline Norton, the positions, opinions, and lifestyles of men and women during the Victorian era were clearly defined. Men in the Victorian era were raised to be intellectually and physically sound in order to be skillful in the workplace and the military while women were typically restricted to fulfilling roles within the home. As the female desire for equal rights and representation under the law mounted, an international vigor for female equality would produce a call for equality.

In Life of Frances Power Cobbe As Told by Herself, Frances Power Cobbe retold her experience at a fashionable English boarding school. Other female students and she gained an education at this institution where they were taught general education courses, foreign languages, and even to play musical instruments. This autobiographical work was monumental in female advancement during the Victorian era. From male perspectives women were only needed to take care of a household and were certainly not intended to intellectually progress on the level as any man. Women were withheld within subservient working positions so that the chances of them overpowering or challenging men in the workplace or at home was nonexistent. The opportunity for women to further their education outside of the home and express themselves artistically was extremely rare during the Victorian era. The exposure Frances Power Cobbe had to a life outside of her maternal and spousal obligations would fuel other women to protest the prejudice men held against all women, and thus Cobbe's narration influenced female ambitions for equality in all aspects of life. Cobbe's autobiography certainly gave Caroline Norton a precedent for action and encouragement to voice her disdain for male domination over women.

Caroline Norton's A Letter to the Queen forcibly protested the prejudice women had endured for centuries in the form of a letter sent to the queen in hopes of rectifying Norton's intellectually impoverished sisters. Norton's frustration with the English legal system (in its regards to women) stemmed from her husband's bondage of her. Her husband denied her access to her sons and tried to wrongfully claim her wages as a writer. From Norton's personal frustrations with her husband...

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