Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Redefinition of female gender roles in the 19th century and the Essay

The Redefinition of female gender roles in the 19th century and the use of Darwinism toward Political objectives - Essay Example History reveals the very fact that women had been leading an oppressive life in England as well as the rest of Europe for centuries, and their activities were confined to the four walls only. Being the reflection of the contemporary society, early nineteenth literature portrays the women busy in performing domestic chores and obligations without taking part in any political, social or economic activity. They used to go to excursions and attend balls and dinners under the supervision of family members; hence, they were not allowed to travel alone or without the prior permission of the family. The novels produced by Jane Austen, Dickens, Bronte sisters, Eliot and others depict the same male-dominated cultural scenario, where women were the direct target of discriminative behavior at the hands of male members of society. Somehow, the situation took a drastic turn during the second half of the same century, and the same Mary Evans Ann, who used to produce works under the male name George Eliot, got such courage that she started living with G. H. Lewes for more than 20 years quite as if his wife did not exist; Sarah Austin (the wife of the famous jurist), who wrote letters of such ardor and indiscretion to a visiting German prince as to invite blackmail. (Himmelfarb, 1961) The Victorian literature reveals that female writers, poets, intellectuals and artists used to feel hesitation in participating into any literary, social or political activity, for they were discouraged to get their works published. It is therefore the renowned authors and novelists including Bronte sisters, George Eliot and others had to conceal their female names while creating the pieces of literature. Though Victorian literature contained the works of female writers, but the atmosphere was not appreciable at all. The share of women community in social construction was not acknowledged, although they worked in fields, hospitals, teaching institutions and other professions at limited scale. Stil l the male domination was oppressive and tyrannical. At first, Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 19th century and Emma Goldman in the beginning of 20th century raised their voice for the women rights. However, later part of nineteenth century observed imperative changes in women’s role and responsibilities in society. It was the era when Charles Darwin presented his astounding Evolution Theory under the title â€Å"Survival of the Fittest† in his magnificent work On the Origin of Species (1859), and proved that only strong and powerful species maintained the right to survive and reproduce. Darwin vehemently argues in favor of the notion natural selection, and declares it as the law of nature. He is of the view that it is the law of nature that the favorable traits and features in species contain more probability of inheritance and transformation into next generations. (1872: 159) Renowned sociologist Herbert Spencer extended the same survival theory, called social Darwinism, a nd claimed that socially strong communities make sure headway in the world, while the financially weak people are sure to eliminate sooner or later. Nineteenth century women also got inspiration from this very notion to obtain freedom from the awkward clutches of suppression and humiliation. Thus, women’

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