Victorian Expectations for Women

While reading Reuben Sachs I came across one quote in particular that stuck out to me, “This woman, with her beauty, her intelligence, her power of feeling, saw herself merely as one of a vast crowd of girls awaiting their promotion by marriage.” This quote is talking about Judith and though she has much to offer she, like most Victorian women, are simply waiting around to get married and fulfill their duties of becoming a housewife. This quote reminded me of Catherine in Wuthering Heights. In chapter 11 of Wuthering Heights, Catherine tells Nelly that Edgar has asked her to marry him and she has accepted. She goes on to explain that she cannot marry Heathcliff because in her eyes he is beneath her in some way. She goes so far as to say, “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff.” She knows that Edgar Linton is a proper gentleman and can offer her a life of a typical Victorian woman. Judith and Catherine are very similar in that they feel as though they don’t have complete control over their lives. During the Victorian Era, women were expected to be good wives and mothers so this is what was done. Even though these women might have had ideas of their own about how they might want their lives to end up, the traditions of domestic life were so engrained in the society already.

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