Dehumanization Of Women In The 1700's Essay

718 Words3 Pages

Essentially, marriage in the 1700’s was seen merely as a means of birthing heirs and finding a way to financially support yourself, so it resulted in both men and women being devalued. It is universally known that women were often treated as inept and helpless rather than sophisticated people with autonomy and capabilities. In fact, during this time, “married women were consistently compared with minor children and the insane-- both categories of people considered incapable of caring for themselves. To marry a woman was, in one sense, to ‘adopt’ her-- or at least to adopt responsibility for all the circumstances of life with which she entered the marriage” (Teachman 39). Furthermore, when women got married, they would legally cease to exist. …show more content…

Both of these examples explicitly state the ways in which women were dehumanized through the institution of marriage during this time. Because marriage was mainly seen as a way to support yourself, and men were the ones who were expected to provide that support, it made people see women as the useless part of the equation. Even though men were expected to be the financial bedrock for the women, women were also expected to not be totally destitute. Otherwise the husband would be taking on that much more of a financial burden than the wife already is. This is seen in the novel when the marriage between Wickham and Lydia is discussed, where Lydia is seen as a poor match for Wickham mainly due to Wickham not being able to support a girl with such little financial assets. Austen writes, “‘Wickham will never marry a woman without some money. He cannot afford it. And what claims has Lydia, what attractions has she beyond youth, health, and good humour, that could make him for her sake, forego every chance of benefiting himself by marrying well?’” (214). Here, Lydia’s positive qualities are listed off: that she is young, healthy, and

Show More
Open Document