Class Engl: 101W
Female liberation in The Agency
Y.S.Lee’s novel, The Agency: A Spy in the House, depicts Mary Quinn’s first assignment since entering The Agency. Mary became a thief during her miserable childhood and was rescued by a woman posing as a prison warden after she was sentenced to hanging. She then became a student in Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls and was sent to Mr. Thorold’s home posting as Miss Angelica Thorold’s lady companion, in order to spy on Mr. Thorold’s illegal smuggling business. Mrs. Thorold, Angelica, and Mary Quinn will give examples of whether women can revolt the patriarchal society by their efforts. Britain in the 19th century was a patriarchal society and the dominant idea was that there are irrefutable natural differences between genders. Therefore, males, who occupied the dominant positions, were born for business, finance, and politics, while women were expected to marry, manage the family, and take care of the children. It seems that females in that period were thought to be miserable, tragic, and wretched and did not have suffrage rights, the right to sue, or the right to own property. Their inferior jobs such as babysitter or textile worker were barely enough to survive on. Worse still, most working women were employed in the unskilled, unorganized, service jobs and were paid a lower salary. Some of them were even required to become prostitutes out of desperation. Later, females entered some male dominated industries, but they only got one third of a man’s salary. There were still a large amount of women who lived as housewives, like Mrs. Thorold was pretending to do in the novel. They merely managed the family or were considered decoration in the living room. Women’s social value and working rights were denied by men, who were the heads of society. Angelica and Mrs. Thorold are two secondary female characters in The Agency apart from Mary Quinn. They...