Gender Roles In Victorian Literature

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In western academia, the Victorian era has always been a well studied subject. It was known to be an elegant time: filled with new innovations, a bustling economy, and an evolving political narrative. The Victorian era was the epitome of extravagance of its time, and no other society could compare. However the Victorian era was not faultless. While it was a prosperous time period, issues involving class, poverty, race, and gender still existed (as they do with all societies). Some of these issues were affected by the conservatism associated with the Victorian era. One such example would be the strict gender roles in Victorian society. The unmistakably Victorian idea of the “prideful man at work” and the “delicate lady at home” became ingrained into the Victorian culture. Victorian authors, of this time period, often manifested these stereotypes in their literature. Purposefully or not, Victorian literature often addresses the issues created by gender roles for women. As we have discussed in class, women in the Victorian …show more content…
Why was the role of men in Victorian society so heavily distinguished from the role of women? Professor Kathryn Hughes would argue that shifts towards industrial labor (replacing families working together at home) during the 19th century, led to a significant divide in gender roles between men and women. The main argument here is that as more men began to work in factories, more women were left at home to tend to domestic affairs (Hughes). You can see how this divide in labor distribution between the genders could have contributed to shifting gender roles in Victorian society. However, what this really means is that, similarly to women in the Victorian era, men were also required to fulfill certain gender roles. Failure to conform to these roles would lead to an oppression of individual identity in men living in Victorian society. We see this in The Mill on the Floss through the character,

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