Gender roles in the 19th century and the slave system

Gender roles in the 19th century and the slave system -...

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Alysse Johnson Runaway Role’s First Paper Gender roles in the 19 th century are not that much unlike the slave system. Women were similar to the slaves and society/men were similar to the masters; one was the oppressed and the other the oppressor. Although women in the 1800s, as represented in The Awakening by Kate Chopin, did have more social freedoms then slaves they were still bound by society. Taught to act and even think a certain way, their main goal in life was supposed to be to serve their families. Almost as if they had no minds of their own, they were just told by their society and husbands what to do. To serve them and their children’s every need without any other thought for themselves they were only to think of themselves last, if at all. Slaves, as in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass, were similar in this way in that they were to serve their masters, to get up, do the work they were told to do, then go to bed, and do it all again the next day. They were never to make their own choices or to think for themselves because slaves always had masters to tell them what to do and think. Eventually the oppressed becomes used to this treatment and accepts it as just what their life is supposed to be. However, some of these people can become tired of this treatment and events occur that make them begin to want to think for themselves and to rise up against their oppressors, and shed the binds that keep them tethered and in control by their masters. Society and slaveholders are very similar when they oppress the roles they are in relation with. One thing that society tends to do to women in the 19 th century is to make them feel inferior to men, and they were only to cater to other people’s needs. Women were expected to be perfect wives and mothers, and to serve their husbands and children before themselves at all times. However, society did allow women to go out and be socially active with other people, but they were still regulated on where and who they could be with. For instance, Edna was supposed to be home every Tuesday for calling hours, a time when she was to meet with her husband’s business
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Alysse Johnson Runaway Role’s First Paper acquaintances’ wives to increase his business and make him more successful. Her husband was like her master only on a lesser level, so she could still do what she wanted, as long as what she wanted was what society expected her to act like. If she didn’t then society wouldn’t accept her, and she would be an outsider. However, the husbands in this society could do as they pleased; for example, instead of staying with Edna and the children Mr. Pontellier is always going to Klein’s hotel or the club. When Edna asks when he will be back for dinner, he responds by shrugging his shoulders and thinking, “He did not know; perhaps he would return for the early dinner and perhaps he would not. It all depended upon the company which he found over at Klein’s and the
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This note was uploaded on 11/02/2011 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Butler during the Spring '11 term at Cardinal Stritch.

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Gender roles in the 19th century and the slave system -...

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