Gender Roles In Hard Times

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Gender roles have changed drastically over the years, paving a path for women to become educated, and form more equal gender relationships. This development of a new woman formed strongly during the Victorian Era, with help from literary works of Judith Walkowitz, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. Prior to the Victorian Era, women had little to no voice. Women were controlled by men, owned no property, and were expected to take care of the home and children. If a woman did work, her options were limited to things such as making clothes, teaching, or being a nurse. The pay for women was also very low, and required minimal skills. During this time, a woman’s piety, also known as religion, was one of the most valuable things to both herself …show more content…
While the novel does not demonstrate this ideal through a specific character, Dickens exemplifies it through societal shifts and attitudes regarding gender roles, specifically the role of women. Hard Times discusses the difficulties of the outside world concerning the Industrial Revolution, and the dangers surrounding it. The gender roles in the novel are modeled from the Victorian Era, and “involve the middle – class wife having exclusive moral and spiritual dominion over her home so that she can provide a haven from the harsh, immoral conditions her husband and sons face in the outside world” (chrestomathy). When Louisa Gradgrind breaks this moral code of obeying her husband, she breaks the idea of being an “angel in the house” woman. While Louisa was brought up with an education, she never experienced love and a joyful childhood, thus causing her to shut people out. When Louisa realized she only married Bounderby to please her father, she abandoned her marriage. Another character, Mrs. Sparsit, had always kept a watchful eye on Louisa, in hopes that she would find fault in Louisa, and ruin her marriage. Mrs. Sparsit is the Bounderby’s maid, who was previously a member of the aristocratic elite, until her failed marriage. Mrs. Sparsit feels she deserves to be a member of the elite again, and commits various malicious acts in order to get what she wants. Mrs. Sparsit longs to be considered an “angel in the house,” but instead is used as a parody of the

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