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The Role of Women in Regency England

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Kimberly Lemons

on 25 April 2013

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Transcript of The Role of Women in Regency England

Caroline Lemons, Kimberly Lemons, and Roslyn Northover The Role of Women in Regency England Accomplishments Childbirth Outside the House The decision to marry defined a woman's entire future: her rank, role, duties, social status, economic position, comfort, physical safety, children's health, and her way of life. The Ideal Woman The ideal middle-class woman was legally subordinate, economically dependent, and always obedient to her husband. At the same time, she was also supposed to rule the home. Marriage Marriage was thought of as a woman's natural destiny. An important part of the criterion of middle class women was sexual innocence. Men were often attracted to younger women, and women often got married at a fairly young age. The age gap between the husband and the wife was often wider among the wealthy. Responsibilities Wives had many responsibilities including:
-washing their husband’s clothes
-cooking and cleaning
-budgeting
-caring for the children
Working class women also sometimes worked outside of the home. Wives were supposed to bring out the best in the husband. An important part of the criterion of middle class women was sexual innocence. One of a woman’s main roles was to have children, which was a very difficult role at this time. Women’s chances of dying in childbirth were much higher than they are today, and childbirth was often associated with complications and pain. Middle class and wealthier mothers sometimes had less to do with the physical care of their children than the working class. To impress a man, a woman had to accomplish many things. If a man said he had specific requirements, the woman understood that she should also have a wide knowledge about things like music and dancing and look proper while doing so. The woman’s accomplishments might not always seem useful, but her knowledge was supposed to honor her future husband. The main role of women was to keep the home enjoyable. Since they rarely had jobs outside the home, women delighted in things like gossip, fashion, social gatherings, and especially balls. Having a regular partner and dancing several dances at a ball was a prelude to engagement. To be allowed to go to a ball, a girl’s parents had to consider her old enough to come out. If there was more than one daughter in a family, the parents did not usually let the younger daughter go out until the older daughter was married. Usually married couples refrained from going to balls. Jobs Women were an important part of the economy. Women sometimes had jobs like schoolteachers, dairy workers, or seamstresses but usually were forced to stay at home. If women failed to fulfill their responsibilities as wives, the children and husband would suffer greatly. Education The daughters of upper class men often stayed in their father's house while the sons were sent to school to continue education. Women rarely continued education after basic schooling as a child because it was considered their job to learn the role of being a caretaker and housewife. Legal Rights All legal rights of the woman went to her husband when she got married, and all property she owned was then shared. Women lacked any legal existence. For example, she could not sue anyone without getting her husband legally involved. Expectations -Women were supposed to rule the home, but also be obedient and dependent on their husband.
-Women were expected to marry, have children, and please their family, while keeping their own desires to a minimum.
-It was thought that women were supposed to be kept safe at home because their obedience, submission, innocence, and refinement would make them victimized in the competitive public world. Clothing During the nineteenth century, it shifted dramatically, revealing more of the woman's figure. They had larger sleeves with a skirt while their waists began to slowly become smaller with a constrictive corset. A corset was popular, yet important to have a small waist, even young girls were introduced to corsets by their mothers. With dresses becoming lighter and more revealing, women's place in society began to shift towards more liberty. During the 1860's, women gained more social freedoms, introducing sportswear to women. In the late nineteenth century, fur was very popular and showed their wealth and rank in society. Among the upper class, white skin was desired by women because it identified a person's status. Women also wore hats such as bonnets and large, floppy hats or ornaments in their hair.
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