Women in the Victorian era were held to certain expectations that affected them socially, politically, and economically. Between the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, women had very specific gender roles, and when they did no adhere to these standards, their reputations and overall way of life would completely change. Women had very few rights, were considered property of their husbands, and many were forced to endure abusive relationships. The repression of women in this era inspired many authors to explore the conflicts at hand, and in turn, write bout them.
Many of these works, have been able to give readers in more modern times, a better idea of what life was like for middle to upper class women and their families. Although the stories differ, there are many similarities between some of the characterizations of the women that we have read about thus far. The women of these stories have actually, all in some way, defied the expectations of women in their era; some even representing a reformation of women in Victorianism. Vive Warren is a perfect example of a woman who exudes defiance towards her expected role.
Highly educated, practical, strong, and confident; Vive is also considered unromantic. She denies two marriage proposals, and conducts herself in an almost business-like manner. Socially, she differs greatly from what the idea off woman her age should have been at that time. Kate Chopping characterization of Edna Pointillist was also considered socially unaccepted by society; this being due to Dean’s lack of interest in her domestic obligations, and her choice to live for her own selfish desires.
Choosing to separate herself from her family to focus on her art and discovering who she was as a sexual arson, caused readers to react negatively to the story as a whole. The idea that Just reading a story about something considered as taboo as it was, could cause the backlash it did, is more telling of where women and their rights stood in the Victorian era, than the story itself. Women were dependent on their spouses due to laws inhibiting them from owning property. This gave them very little economic advantage.
Women, also being without the right to vote, made it safe to say that they were ultimately Just reflections of their husbands. Mattie Silver is depicted only through Ethan Frame’s eyes, and it s not until the end of the story that the readers are able to gather a sense of her true self. It is made obvious to the readers that Mattie has very little experience and is uneducated. With her father’s departure, and the very little money she is left with, she becomes dependent on her other family members.
She is a good representation of the lack of opportunity women were presented with in those times. Daisy Miller is a lot like Mattie Silver in the sense of maturity and frivolity. They are both told to the reader through a man’s perspective and are described as young, and rather naive. Daisy, although told of as a rather silly ignorant girl, the readers can assess that she may actually be beyond her years in terms of social formalities. She feminist.
The characterization of these women, give the readers an idea of the position of females in Victorianism by giving readers descriptions of obstacles or difficulties faced in real life situations. By giving examples of struggles between desires and emotions, and the expectation of being the ideal woman, the readers are able to identify with these women, and imagine a life much different than the one women have the opportunity to live today.