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Essay 1 - Michael Hewitt Professor Kaplan Womens Studies...

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Michael HewittProfessor KaplanWomen’s StudiesOct. 15Unconventional Victorian WomenVictorian era writing often depicts women as a subhuman, illiterate,annoying, and a person who should not be taken seriously.Is this an accuraterepresentation of women in this period?Obviously not all women would fulfill thesecharacteristics, but there is no denying that women did not have the sameopportunities as men at this time.In other words, it is to say that even if a majorityof women made up this description, the burden is not on the woman.She did nothave the same power.Hence, that would be victim blaming.The burden is on thebeholder of power.Men.In the texts,Pride and Prejudice,written by Jane AustenandMrs. Warren’s Profession,written by George Bernard Shaw, threeunconventional, female characters (Kitty Warren, Vivie Warren, and ElizabethBennet) challenge the status quo.The texts demonstrate various female characterstrying to fight for female autonomy in the patriarchal culture and society they live in.Some wish for marriage, but engage in a loveless marriage, or lose their own voiceby entering marriage.Others choose not to marry for career pursuits, but lose outon having a family or the love and resources of a spouse.The third option that willbe addressed is one that is ideal to avoid.Which is to say, some women will sell theirbodies to men for money, in hopes of bettering the lives of loved ones.
Before we dissect each character individually, it is important to construct thisargument through the lenses of powerful feminist authors that will perfectly framethe expectations of women and how the three characters challenged expectationsand the gains and losses that resulted from that.Adrienne Rich’sClaiming anEducationis a good place to start in breaking down some of the unconventionalcharacteristics of the female characters.Rich writes,“The difference between a lifelived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immensedifference. Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, wecan never be satisfied with the old, passive way,” (29).Rich summons this idea thatwomen should not be content with living under the old circumstances, given thenew opportunities for a woman to live an independent lifestyle, not reliant on a manto provide and protect her.One character that resembles Rich’s message is Vivie Warren.Vivie is thedaughter of Mrs. Kitty Warren, a town prostitute and who also runs brothels.WhileKitty’s lifestyle has been independent in a patriarchal manner, Vivie’s privilegedupbringing has allowed her to prevent conforming to gender roles. Despite the wealthKitty has earned and offers to her daughter, Vivie wants no part of it, an unconventionaldecision for a woman to make in this era.In Vivie’s final discussion with Kitty shereferences the wealthy as “immorally fashionable and worthless” (102).It is not to say

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Term
Spring
Professor
AnatBiletzki
Tags
Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy

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