Gender Expectations In The Coquette By Hannah Webster Foster

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Hannah Webster Foster elaborates on gender expectations in her novel, “The Coquette”. The main characters Eliza Wharton and Major Sanford are examples of how society is very strict on gender norms. For example, from birth society is quick to picture an infant male with the color blue and a female infant with the color pink. This shows how men and women are socialized from birth. The novel also explains how men and women have double standards. Society has given men and women contradictory standards for gender roles and social relations. Gender expectations are very strict in society because of the role play of the gender. Women are expected to be the housewives and more virtuous, while men are the ones with more options and freedom. Eliza …show more content…
In the beginning of the novel, Eliza surrounded herself married couples. With society setting standards for how women should behave, it causes women to be forced into certain friendships. I feel like if women can’t be there selves in society, then it causes them to be someone that they are not. If women don’t surround themselves with people that meeting society’s expectations then they are over looked. When Eliza does try to meet society’s needs by staying to one man she asks her married friend, Lucy for advice. I think Lucy gives her advice to help Eliza fit into the society that they are in, Society disgraces women who are single and too appealing to multiple numbers of men, but men their selves can be seen as a coquette and society sees it normal. Men social life isn’t as affected because their expectations are not as harsh. Major Sanford continues to flirt with Eliza, but it is seen to be a normal trait for men. While men have options of women, if a woman starts to have multiple men she is seen as a coquette and her social life starts to decline. When Lucy and Julia finds out that Eliza was pregnant without a husband they explain how virtue is important to a woman. I believe they start to judge Eliza because she didn’t meet a woman expectations in gender norms. This is due to the fact that society has set women expectations to them being excellent and passive. Eliza maybe thought that her friends would view her differently because she was pregnant by a married man. After Eliza’s death this society did look at him differently but I don’t think they gave him the same punishment. In society’s perspective women should respect themselves more than men. They set these standards and certain women cannot meet them so it causes problems in the woman’s social life. For Eliza the society she was in made her feel ashamed and that’s what caused her to kill herself. I feel that they looked

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