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|Invisibility and the double standard...
Written by helena6
(9/27/2005 9:55 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, In defence of Charles, penned by Tracy W
But I am struck by a contrast with the attention that children get in books like Emma... John does not spend his holidays shooting and leave the children only to his wife. We see that he spends long periods with them.
Perhaps it is because John Knightley's boys are older and therefore more able to be in their father's company without a maid at hand. We don't see him alone with the baby.
Nursing may not be a man's province, but I'm not sure what to make of Charles' leaving for dinner. He certainly is not a man of deep domesticity.
The double standard bothers me. Mary lacks a very maternal heart and it is a bit ridiculed. It comes from a kind of selfishness - an inability to care about the concerns of others - even her own children. But her husband has much the same idea. He cannot bear to sit at home quitely and do nothing merely because his child or wife might need it.
Perhaps his wife would need the support and someone to keep her company as she tends her child. Perhaps the child might like his father to sit by him talk to him as a kind of treat.
Not every woman is a martyr to her role as mother. Anne is particularly giving (perhaps overly so). But I'm not inclined to condemn Mary any more than Charles.
I only dislike that she allows Anne to do HER work when she finds it disagreeable. They are her children! But should a woman be unable to leave her child while her husband is has no equal feeling? Will we condemn her just for that? Does Austen?
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