Gender Roles In Victorian American Society

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The Victorian American society was divided into male and female spheres of different interests, which left men’s and women’s worlds separate of each other. Smith-Rosenberg argues that this was so because gender roles were rigidly differentiated within the society, as within the family. The public sphere of law, politics and economics was men’s arena and women acted only in the private sphere of domestic life. The division of separate spheres was due to the supposed psychological differences of the sexes: men were associated “with reason, objectivity, the law; women with emotion, subjectivity, and ritual.” '5" Victorians believed these separate spheres were determined “by the immutable laws of God and nature,” which left little option for ordinary people to change them. Hindered by this God givcn barrier, contacts between men and women were formal and stiff.160…show more content…
Men did their duty by working in the public sphere, whereas women served the society ' by providing nurturance to the family and producing good citizens. As Gerda Lerner points out, women’s ultimate purpose in life was to love, as wives and mothers, and to devote their lives to their families.lm Ideal love was committed companionship which did not include passionate feelings. Passion, as Robertj. Sternberg points out, was only directed towards God; there was no place for that emotion in the secular relationships between humans.mz Moreover, it was believed that deep emotions drained heavily on the limited bodily energies and were therefore to be avoided. m An ideal Victorian marriage in The Awakening is pictured in the union of

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