English II Honors
25 May 2012
Not a Typical Wallflower of the 1800s
Sitting in the parlor finishing some needlework, sipping an afternoon cup of tea, or simply just sitting and looking beautiful. These kinds of situations compiled the day to day lives of women of the upper class in the 1800s. Most women lived their lives to simply please their husbands, fathers, and children. Their role in society was as an accessory to adorn and complement their husbands. Their political role was completely and utterly nonexistent. But as in every situation there were some exceptions to this rule. Such exceptions are portrayed by Alexandre Dumas. In his book, The Count of Monte Cristo, he exhibits a young woman, Eugenie Danglars, who is very ahead of her time and does not heed typical characteristics of women of her era. Eugenie displays her strong, independent character since the beginning of the novel. She doesn’t want to be tied down to a husband, she rather be single and pursuit her musical aspirations. This kind of mindset is completely discrepant with the ideal that “[a woman’s] sole purpose in life is to find a husband, reproduce and then spend the rest of their lives serving him” (“Historical Brief-Lives of Women in the early 1800s [staff.washington.edu]”). This kind of attitude sets Eugenie apart from all the other women in the novel. As the novel progresses Oporto 2
Eugenie becomes more obstinate about her fate. Until she takes matters into her own hands and runs away to live her life. These characteristics display Eugenie’s independent nature. Furthermore, Eugenie’s personality contradicts the common the role women were supposed to follow in 1800s. Eugenie is one of the few women who seek freedom and self-discovery. Most women in her epoch accepted their role in society without query, including the most influential such as Queen Victoria herself. For example, Queen Victoria had written "let women be what God...