Harriet Martineau's Influence On Society

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Harriet Martineau and her Influence on Victorian Society Harriet Martineau was the first female sociologist that made many contributions to the field, but were not acknowledged until after her death, and even today she is widely unknown (Bell, 1932). However, she was very well known for her writing, and was famous for it in her time. Her writing even influenced great minds like Edith Abbott, Herbert Spencer, William Sumner, and Lester Ward (Hill, 1993). However, it was not without its consequences. Miss Martineau had an ongoing struggle throughout her life with her feminine gender role and wanting to achieve roles normally occupied by men (Postlethwaite, 1989). Harriet Martineau influenced and reflected her time by breaking gender roles, promoting…show more content…
Once her mother was in London with her, she insisted that Harriet still perform all the duties of running a household, which she did and kept up with her strict writing schedule every day (Postlethwaite, 1989). This along with Martineau’s mother constantly enforcing the gender roles of running a household led Harriet to fall ill for six years (Clarke, 1877). During this time she was able to get out from under her mother and her gender role. However, Martineau discovered her feminine side and adopted writing styles such as autobiographies and personal diaries (Postlethwaite, 1989). After she recovered she moved to the Lake District where she built her own house and had a close relationship with her maids. She was a motherly figure to them. This is where Martineau discovered how she could be feminine and masculine at the same time. In her book Society in America she states that “the choice is to be either ill-educated, passive, and subservient, or well-educated, vigorous, and free only upon sufferance” (Martineau, 1837). At the Lake District house she discovers the balance between these two. “She holds the pen and the needle simultaneously” (Postlethwaite, 1989). Martineau provides a great role model for women breaking gender roles and trying to find a balance between what society says is the feminine and masculine role at the
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