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The Transformation Of The Role Of Women Within Victorian Poetry

1848 words - 7 pages

The role of women during the Victorian Era has been a prevalent topic over the course of the semester. Women during that time had limited rights, and the rights they did have were equivalent to that of children. Domesticity, caring for their husband and children was the focus of their livelihood. As England continued to grow and industrialize, women became more marginalized, while men continued to grow into dominant members of society, this is known as the notion of separate spheres. The notion of separate spheres was not limited to the role women and men had in the home, but extended into the streets and the workplace. Men were seen as formidable, intellectual, and the governing sex; whereas, women on the other hand, were disregarded as emotionally unstable, dominated by their sexuality, and submissive to men’s wants and desires. Women were not only given limited rights to the roles they had in society, but also were not given the right to choose whom they wanted to marry. A majority of women had no other option but to marry as a way to maintain their livelihood, unless they were members of high social standings. Additionally, the rights of a woman were again lessened after she wed. The moment a woman married, she automatically became the property of her husband. The limited rights she had before were stripped away: her property, identity, and value ceased to exist the moment she became the helpmate to a man. The ideology of the role women played did not limit itself to the confines of society, but appeared within a larger part of the literature during that time. Notably in the poetry, which was a substantial component during the Victorian Era. Unlike the work of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s, Aurora Leigh, and Emily Bronte’s “The Prisoner”, a majority of the women depicted in Victorian poetry were undervalued by the men depicting them through their writing. Throughout this essay, I will demonstrate the differences between the way women were depicted in Victorian Poetry, by comparing and contrasting the work of Coventry Patmore’s “The Angel in the House” to Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover”, and George Meredith’s “Modern Love”, as a way to depict the transformative state that poetry has undergone. In Patmore’s “The Angel in the House” the woman is illustrated as a marginalized character, compared to the works of Browning and Meredith where the women are seen as trivialized beings; however, they aren’t as powerless and marginalized as they seem, which will reveal a reversal in gender roles during a time when women seemed to not have any authority.
Coventry Patmore “The Angel in the House”
Coventry Patmore’s “The Angel in the House” validates the role women were expected to play in the Victorian Era. As presented in the following line: “Man must be pleased; but him to please is a woman’s pleasure,” Patmore implies that a man’s happiness is what pleases a woman the most (“The Angel in the House” handout). The title...

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