Analysis Of The Gentlemen's Daughter By Amanda Vickery

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In the book The Gentlemen’s Daughter, Amanda Vickery explores the life of “genteel” women in Georgian England. Using the letters and diaries of women from the time, Vickery creates a picture of how these women lived. From their search for a husband to the birth of their first child and onwards, Vickery weaves together many accounts into a fascinating and engrossing narrative. Vickery describes genteel women as coming from “families headed by lesser landed gentlemen, attorneys, doctors, clerics, merchants, and manufacturers” (). While they did not pretend to be on par with royalty and the elite, genteel woman did consider themselves above the lower ranks of society. Essentially, they were middle-class. Genteel woman were expected …show more content…
Having children was a huge part of married life during this time. A childless marriage was seen as a sad marriage and was to be avoided. That is not to say that childbirth was any less painful or dangerous. Many would prepare not only for bearing a child, but for death. A pregnant Jane Scrimshire said that she “would adopt [the new polite fashions] if ‘I Live till Spring,’” as well as saying that she “hear[s] of nothing but dying” (98). The time after childbirth wasn’t much happier, as it was a time of illness for both mother and child. For women, the time surrounding childbearing was also socially isolating. Immobility and a lack of free time led to a decrease in social endeavors. However, even with all the pain, illness, and misery, childbearing was rewarding and transforming for both parents. Fathers were also invested in the child, but the mother still held the majority of the responsibility. Mothers cared for, educated, and disciplined their children, some with the help of a nursery maid. Raising children right was incredibly important to many mothers. Maria Edgeworth said that she “always [tried] to feed their minds as well as their bodies…by encouraging observation and interest in what they see” (121). Along with taking care of the children, genteel woman also handled the housekeeping. When it came to running the household, women held all the power. Men were completely useless in this regard. When Anne Stanhope took a visit to her sister’s, “her husband Walter Stanhope grew impatient for her return, pleading his helplessness: ‘ye house does not look right without you & I am no way qualified for housekeeping’”

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