Nineteenth Century Literature

Blog Post, Week 11

“This play, while mocking deeply at the tribal customs of the late Victorians, has, at its heart, a wish to point the human race in the right direction: away from fraud, hypocrisy and such indecent preoccupation with material realities.”

1/ Write whether you agree or disagree with the last paragraph in this blog

I agree with the last paragraph in this blog as the satire used by Oscar Wilde within the play draws our attention to the ridiculousness of Lady Bracknell’s interests and expectations through the use of extensive exaggerations and humour.

Rather than focusing on love and emotion, Lady Bracknell shows us that what is most highly valued is how much money and status one has and whether or not they measure up to society’s standards and expectations.

Lady Bracknell states that “We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces“, an extremely ironic comment as she is not only referring to the society around her, but she is also unknowing criticizing herself as she is portrayed to be the worst part of this society that she is criticizing.

When reading this play, we today see the humour and exaggeration throughout as, although our world is still overly materialistic, we value character and love in people over their materials and possessions.

Best Critical, Nineteenth Century Literature

Blog Post 4 Week 6

Write a letter to Mr Gradgrind telling him what you think about the way he treated his own daughter, particularly with reference to the marriage arrangements he has created.

Dear Mr Gradgrind,

Are you even aware of your daughter’s feelings? Have you ever stopped to think of what she may think and feel, of why she does not speak up more?

You have blocked off feelings entirely, so much that those around you feel as though they must too. Louisa is a young woman full of emotion, and yet, she cannot open up, she cannot explore and express these feelings when she is around you. How could you treat your daughter in a way that she feels she is unable to be open with you?

And as if this is not enough, you are going to force her into an arranged marriage that she feels as though she cannot be honest about? Does your daughter even want to marry Mr Bounderby? How much does she know and like about him beyond his wealth?

He may be wealthy but have you thought to ask Louisa what qualities she wishes her husband to possess? I know that I personally would not list wealth to be towards the very top of mine. That I would wish to have a say in my marriage, to choose my own husband and be able to express each and every one of my feelings towards the matter openly. If my family arranged my marriage for me I would be furious! And to think you do not even know your daughter’s opinions and feelings towards the matter – or any matter in fact! It’s utterly disgraceful!

Mr Gradgrind, I propose that before you even consider planning your daughter’s future, you should take a step back and assess whether you truly have the right to make these decisions for her. How can one plan another’s future without even truly knowing them?

Thank you,

Nicole

Nineteenth Century Literature

Blog Post 2 Week 4

Both Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen are concerned with the way women lead their lives. Do you think there is any difference between what Austen and Wollstonecraft propose about how women should spend their time?

Both Mary Wollstonecraft and Jane Austen are concerned with the way women lead their lives.

Mary Wollstonecraft believes that women have an equal right to education as men do. In her A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary expresses her strong beliefs that women play an important role in the passing down of knowledge from one generation to another, and that through education, not only can this knowledge be passed down, but can also be used in order for women to grow wiser. She states that “if she [women] not be prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue”. Wollstonecraft believed that for children to be taught to understand “the true principle of patriotism, their mother must be a patriot; and the love of mankind, from which an orderly train of virtues can spring, can only be produced by considering the moral and civil interest of mankind”. This goes to show that if only men have the education, this knowledge cannot also be passed down by women resulting in children only gaining half of the knowledge and perspectives, and therefore, not all women will have the full extent to understand and grow.

While Mary Wollstonecraft believes that women should spend their time gaining an education, Jane Austen’s novel Emma portrays the idea that women should marry while also building upon their own place in society. Jane Austen’s character, Emma, spends her time “match-making” and focusing on her perceived ability to control fate. While it is later proved to Emma that she in fact does not have this ability, marriage is still a major affair in the novel with the women also showing their independence and desire to move up in society and create a name for themselves through marriage and/or wealth.

Jane Austen.jpg
Jane Austen

Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H Abrams. The Norton Anthology Of English Literature. 9th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.

Austen, Jane, and George Justice. Emma. 4th ed., New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 2012,.

Image: https://writersinspire.org/writers/jane-austen

Nineteenth Century Literature

Blog Post 1 Week 3

From reading the opening pages of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman write what you think is Mary’s most important advice to women of her time.

Mary Wollstonecraft was a British feminist who – at the time – had strongly radical views. During Mary’s time, women did not have political rights, did not have the right to an education, could lose their property to their husband and be unable to take action within the court, and had limited opportunities for vocations outside of the home resulting in majority of women working domestic roles such as servants and nurses.

It is education that Mary Wollstonecraft focusses her main argument around in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In the introductory paragraph, Wollstonecraft states, “if she [women] not be prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue”.  If both women and men are educated, they are able to work together in order to further educate their children. Wollstonecraft argues that “if children are to be educated to understand the true principle of patriotism, their mother must be a patriot; and the love of mankind, from which an orderly train of virtues spring, can only be produced by considering the moral and civil interest of mankind” and that “the education and situation of woman, at present, shuts her out from such investigations.” If women do not have the knowledge and understanding to pass this information down to her children the children will not receive the entire extent of the knowledge and virtues, whereas, if both women and men have this interest and knowledge, they can work together in order to share this knowledge from different understandings and perspectives.

It is from this that I believe that Mary Wollstonecraft’s best advice to women of her time is to seek out education and understanding and use this knowledge to not only grower wiser, but to also help ensure that this knowledge is passed down to their children and future generations.

Referencing:

Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H Abrams. The Norton Anthology Of English Literature. 9th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.