Gender Roles In Victorian Society University Of Louisiana At Lafayette Essay

1528 words - 7 pages

Dominic Palozzola
Dr. DeVine
Englsih 215
Gender Roles
No matter the era of society, people have always placed the two sexes in their own distinct roles that the society perceived and expected them to take part. Their personal identities and personalities were, in essence, set aside to satisfy society’s expectations. In the Victorian era, upper and middle class women were seen and judged without a sense of personality and or character; they followed whatever the male authorative figure in their specific family or relationship told them to do. Their actions were dictated not only by these male authorative figures, but also by the judgements of their peers, which were most often other women. Judgements flew around society all the time, no one ever wanted to be on the bad side of the that judgement, so women did whatever they had to do to be accepted. Since appearances always had to be kept up for women, this led to the idea that women were seen as objects or accessories to their men. In objection to these false ideals, writers began to speak out against them to bring attention to society of their wrong doings and unobtainable standards. The writers of “My Last Duchess”, “On the Western Circuit”, and “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” all use these false ideals of society to their advantage by implicating them into their themes of defining the supposed gender roles society has placed on them.
In Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”(1842), Browning uses his writing to comment on the objectification of women faced in the 16th century from the male controlling and authoritative figures in society. He does this through the stereotypical, egotistical, haughty, and ignorant Duke of Ferrara. The opening line of the poem begins with the Duke showing a painting of his last duchess as he says, “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive” (lines 1-2). The last Duchess is immortalized in the painting and is now solely seen as a decorative piece. This could be a metaphor for how women were seen as decorations or accessories to men. Rather than being seen as intelligent contributing persons to society they were stripped of their personalities and their main purpose became to keep up with the social standards, graces, and appearances of the time to make their husbands or suitor looked better. The Duke perceived the last Duchess as his own possession owned her and therefore had to abide by his ideals. When she failed to meet his standards and did not respect enough the Duke’s 900 year old name enough the Duke rid of her. The Duke said, “I gave commands, Then all smiles stopped together” (lines 45-46). The Duke’s name could represent his inflated ego, and when the last Duchess did not give enough respect to his ego she was punished. Duke says, “…, she thought, and cause enough for calling up that spot of joy, She had a heart…, too easily impressed; she liked whate’er she looked on, and her eyes went everywhere” (lines 20-24). The last...

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