Traditional Victorian gender roles upheld that women's rightful place was within the home – the private, or domestic, sphere - where they were subordinate to men as daughter, wife and mother. Essentially, women were viewed as man's helpmate. Society was constructed in such a way – legally, politically and economically – as to enforce their dependence on men.
This set of verses, printed on a small piece of blue card, promotes this concept of woman. Her identity is defined in relation to man as his 'comforter'. The ironic title, 'Woman's Rights', indicates that it was written in response to the growing women's rights movement of the latter half of the 19th century. In the last stanza the anonymous author alludes to a Christian God to bolster their argument that gender roles are set in stone, a manifestation of God's natural order on earth.
- Article by:
- Kathryn Hughes
- The novel 1832–1880
Why do so few of George Eliot’s female characters fulfil their potential? Professor Kathryn Hughes considers Eliot’s attitudes towards women’s rights, education and place in society, and how she expresses these in her novels.