Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Ali Graver Period 1 Final Copy The Choice is Yours In the United States during the mid-1800’s people began to speak out against inequality. The issue was not only between black and white, but also the controversy over woman’s rights. Harriet Beecher Stowe, an author during this period, aspired to a world where women are held at the same standards as men. Through her writing she encourages women to break out of their domestic comfort and venture out into the world of work. Stowe, along with works of feminists of that time, inspire women to speak out against society and demand their rights. At the time, many women began to embark into the workplace, and the domestic life began to be seen as degrading. This was because the thought of women working outside of the home was new; therefore, women wanted to take the opportunities that they had never been given before. Those that were not fortunate enough to work felt less important because they were not given the choice on the matter like the other women due to the lack of opportunities or responsibilities left to them. However, Stowe is against this way of thinking and her writing reflects the idea of women being given choices. Through her essay “Women’s Sphere” and short story “Trials of a Housekeeper”, Stowe encourages women to be seen as equals

in the work place, but she also strives to show that domestic life should not be seen as depreciating because it has important lessons and duties that women are naturally given. In modern times, woman are given many options and are provided with an infinite number of paths of life; however, in the early 1800’s, this was not the case. It was not until the mid-1800’s that the idea of women being inferior to men began to evolve. The shift in viewpoints was brought on by women’s rights activists of the time who wrote models of how they felt women should be seen and treated. These models differed greatly from the ones that had come before them. Previously, women were to be obedient housewives who had no voice. Writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe wanted to teach women that they should be given more options than they have had in the past. She does this in her works by writing models for women to follow. (Styler 71) An example of this is her essay titled “Women’s Sphere”, in this Stowe gives a model on how to choose what occupation you should go into. She explains that women “Are naturally domestic”’ and therefore have domestic qualities.(Stowe 1). These qualities benefit women in their domestic life and can be carried over into their professional lives. For example, if women are caring and kind mothers to their children, then they could become nurses of some sort (Stowe 5). If women are hands-on in their home, (they like to cook or sew) then perhaps they should work in a factory where they are primarily

working with their hands. Stowe also explains that as mothers, women are naturally teachers. “[The] ‘women’s mission’ to exert an indirect moral influence on society through educating their children” is what makes them the ideal teacher (Skyler 80). Naturally, they take on the role as a teacher, therefore, making that into their occupation would be fit. There are many other qualities that women have that could be a deciding factor on their job and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s writing gives a model for how to find those qualities. She wants women to be more influential in the workplace which is why she writes this, she shows women that their strengths in the home could help them in other aspects of their life. Stowe’s short story emphasizes ways to break out of the domestic shell, sending the message that she was strictly a women’s rights activist who was against women staying at home. However, this is not true in other writings. She illustrates how much she values the stereotypical mother and wife as well as honoring them for all that they do. Stowe simply wants to show women that there are other options that they could take in life and then leave...
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