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Women Writers 1 Essay

1296 words - 5 pages

#1 Southworth comments on women's lives and societies views in the novel The Hidden Hand. Southworth's humor is what made her novel so popular in the early nineteenth century. If Southworth had not used humor many people would not have read what she had to say about women. Two characters that the author uses to depict feminine stereotypes are Capitola and Clara Day.Capitola, the young and adventurous spirit, crosses over many boundaries that many women did not have the chance to do in this certain time period. The first gender boundary that is crossed for the character of Capitola is when she dresses like a boy. "While all the ragged boys I know could get little jobs to earn bread, I, because I was a girl, was not allowed to carry a gentleman's parcel, or black his boots, or shovel the snow off a shopkeeper's pavement, or put in coal, or do anything I could just as well as they. And so, because I was a girl, there seemed to be nothing but starvation or beggary before me. (40-41)" Capitola dressed as a boy in order to survive. Southworth allows the reader a glimpse as to how hard it was for a girl to survive yet how easy it was for a boy to survive. Capitola was very independent when women were supposed to be dependent either on their families or their significant others. This is shown through her riding without permission. Capitola was very brave and courageous when she jumped on Black Donald's back. Society viewed women as passive and Capitola was shown as the other extreme. While women were supposed to obey their family or husbands, Capitola ignores Old Hurricane many of times such as when she returns to the Hidden House.Clara Day is the antithesis of Capitola in that she is very passive, obedient, and innocent. While men were sent for higher education, women were only allowed a certain amount of education. Clara Day came from a prominent family, yet only went to school until she was fourteen. Clara shows the stereotypical feminine obedience when she follows the court orders to go live with LeNoir and get married. Through Clara, the author provides the views of women in domesticated roles. When Clara came back from school, Marah Rocke was sent to teach her how to sew and care for the house. Women were supposed to be loyal and Clara showed her loyalty to her father and her husband.The author uses Capitola's character to comment on the aspects of women's lives and to challenge society's views of women. Even though Capitola is the extreme of all of the characters, the author does not look down on the other characters. Instead, the other characters allow the reader to understand the absurdity in the roles that society has given women. Southworth uses the humorous Capitola to show how her actions aren't so manly. The only thing that the author believes that women could not do is overpower men physically. This is shown throughout the book when Capitola realizes that she cannot fight her way out but needs to outwit the villains. When LeNoir gave...

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