“Female characters are often represented as being constrained by their societies.”
Explore the presentation of female characters in the light of this statement.
During the 18th and 19th century it was believed that women and men were divided into two separate spheres that influenced and defined their roles in society. The private sphere is typically the woman’s role where they were obliged to complete what at the time was perceived to be feminine duties, such as cooking and caretaking. On the other hand, men were stereotypically the breadwinners and were a part of the public sphere. Jane Austen wrote the comedy of manners ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to reflect her opinion on the constraints and limitations of woman during the 18th century. Additionally, Charlotte Gilman has written ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ during this time period about a woman’s depression that only worsens due to the limitations of the domestic sphere.
It is clear in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that during the 18th century that women had to maintain a feminine image as well as a number of other things in order to marry a man with a great fortune. In chapter 8 of the novel, “I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.” This emphasizes that in 18th century woman typically had to be ladylike. Also, this indicates that woman were physically constrained by society meaning they had to follow the stereotypical idea of what a woman was to avoid being teased and ridiculed. In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ the narrator is faced with similar constraints by society. “He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fantasies, and I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency.” Despite the physical constraints that the narrator is faced with such as remaining in the nursery, her creativity is being crushed and repressed by society. Here, the narrator is being mentally and...
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