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Transcript

  • 1. Victorian Women’s Roles : SPINSTERS & OLD MAIDS “ A woman without a husband is worthless.”
  • 2. Spinsters
    • Spinster – an unmarried woman
    • Derived from the term spinsters for women working in threading factories
    • usually a member of the Middle Class
    • lacked high moral standards
    • Not expected to marry or uphold a woman’s expectation of dignity
    • usually those NOT married by the age of 25 years
    • uneducated
  • 3. Prejudice Opinions of Society
    • Lacked respect for spinsters
    • spinsters = outcasts
    • A “common grotesque” or unattractive, unintelligent woman who is incapable of a human connection
    • The word ‘spinster’ possessed a negative connotation
            • Spinsters = withdrawn, melancholy existence
            • worthless and hopeless
  • 4.
    • “ Society felt marriage was the most important accomplishment a woman could achieve and, if she did not, then society felt her prime purpose had been defeated.”
    • Family = woman’s cornerstone; “Sole function was marriage and procreation.”
      • spinsters = disrupted this idea => threat to society
    • figures of pity
    • No hope of being married = No identity
  • 5. Independent Opinions of Spinsters
    • Also known as “Old Maids”
    • Preferred to establish herself in society; not take pity on herself
    • Purpose: 1) dispel society’s fear of a woman = a hero 2) dispel society’s fear of a spinster = spectacle of defeat in the family
    • Made lives fulfilling, regardless of marital status
    • “ flung” themselves at life, unattached and uninhibited
  • 6.
    • Some pursued careers as writers (ie. Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot)
    • Reminded society => unmarried is Not “aligned with death”
    • Employment = alternative to marriage, Not supplement
    • Had “heroic” status to uphold
    • Believed that journeys outside the family = “central to Victoria spinster’s sense of her life”
    • Proved more to life than fitting society’s mold
  • 7.  
  • 8. Roles in the Workforce
    • Expected to work in low-paying, dead-end jobs (ie. factories, governess, and other domestic forms of employment)
    • Had to find employment in order to support themselves
    • Usually worked in places that were held in contempt or pitied by women of the higher Middle Class (ie. American textile factories)
  • 9.
    • economic factors worked against young ladies in the 19 th century => trouble securing steady job
    • Could begin employment at 8 yrs. of age
    • Had to make own livings => due to No family to support them (even though some lived with parents)
    • Eventually pursued employment in Nursing and Teaching
    • “ Pressures of society’s ideal woman ‘stood in the way of [spinsters] practising a profession and acquiring the necessary education.”
  • 10. Roles in Society
    • Not expected to follow a woman’s specific guidelines (ie. virtue, chastity, love, sobriety, propriety, modesty, conformity, and health)
    • Also Not expected to fulfill a woman’s purpose to ensure comfort, support, and continuation of the male population
    • Did Not require a chaperone in public
    • More free to express emotions
  • 11.
    • Enabled to reciprocate the love of a young man
    • Allowed to be kissed
  • 12. Vulnerability
    • Reputation as “good girls” = often questioned
    • Easily taken advantage of by upper Middle Class young men
    • Often used and then forgotten (ie. young girls would give their affection to a young man who would later deny any relation whatsoever to her)
    • Girls would be left by higher class men for a “good,” wealthier lady
  • 13.
    • Families = outraged, hurt, and protested such behavior of young men
    • insensitive and indiscreet behavior of young men = disregarded by young man’s family
  • 14. Bibliography
    • http://www.umd.umich.edu/casl/hum/eng/classes/434/geweb/ Spinster.htm
    • http://www.victoriaspast.com/Spinsterhood/Spinsterhood.html
    • http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/sfischo/spinster.html

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