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Problems Women Faced During The Early 1900's

1444 words - 6 pages

As history continues to form, it is easy to forget the struggles women have faced. In the early 1900’s a new generation of women began to flourish. Issues such as women’s suffrage, women in the work force, and hope of equality began to rise and mingle in the air overpowered by men. Women started exploring their role in society as beneficial contributors. They began to speak their minds, many finding their voice amongst literature. Willa Cather was amongst one of the many flourishing women authors. Born in 1873 Cather grew up just in time to immerse her soul in writing. Her writing eloquently captivated the changing society, in which she was living. Cather went on to write several novels, and in 1923 she wrote, A Lost Lady, casting an idolized women as the main character, Marina Forrester. The relationships between Marian Forrester and dominant male characters in Willa Cather’s novel, A Lost Lady, demonstrates the strong influential hold men had on women during early 1900’s.
First off, the relationship between Marian Forrester and dominant male characters demonstrates how men influenced a women’s image during the early 1900’s. The Women’s International Center presents, “Women’s History in America”, an article describing how men viewed women in the early 1900’s explaining, “before having children, a woman's role was to become a ‘good wife’’’ (“Women's History in America”). The societal expectation of women was to be the “perfect” housewife. Women aspired to fulfill the role of a housewife, and men looked for a housewife in a potential spouse. In Cather’s novel Mrs. Forrester’s relationship with Mr. Forrester depicts her as the model wife. Cather writes that men “…could not imagine [Mrs.Forrester] in any dress or situation in which she would not be charming.” (Cather 6). The men in the town have a mindset of how women should look and behave, and Mrs. Forrester is the pure essence of those beliefs. The townsmen see Mrs. Forrester and Mr. Forrester’s relationship, and see her as a charming housewife, while she contently fulfills the role. During the early 1900’s women were also seen as property, not as individuals. The Women’s International Center article describes men’s societal views in the 1900’s stating, “most men still thought of females as a form of property whose sole existence was to serve them” (“Women's History in America”). Men believed having an attractive and charming spouse increased their worth as an individual. The element of possessiveness is seen in the Forrester’s relationship; as they host a dinner party, Mr.Forrester is described as sitting proudly next to his wife (Cather 39). It is evident that Mr.Forrester, like most men in the 1900’s, relished in having a “perfect” wife. The relationship between the Forrester’s, although it was one of love, was clearly, greatly valued for Mrs. Forrester’s aesthetic contribution as his wife, rather than an equal partner. Men’s societal expectations in the 1900’s made it evident women were...

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