Posted by Cassia on August 23, 1997 at 14:39:35:
In reply to A woman's worth posted by Elissa on August 22, 1997 at 17:01:05
] All these women I read about in the regency period seem to be fairly useless things.It seems to me that a woman was expected to run her household and only look like a useless adornment. Surely, even with a good housekeeper, a mistress of a fine estate would have considerable delegating and organizational work to do.
I recently read a Women's History book called The Prospect before Her",and the author, whose name I can't recall at the moment compared running a great house to running what would be a medium sized hotel today. JA lived during a time when the role of upper-class women was changing a great deal. For example, women of the gentry in Mrs. Bennet's generation often had a hand in the cooking, sewing, baking, ect. but this was going out of fashion (witness Mrs. Bennet herself) as the pursuit of "decorative accomplishments" was deemed more important. The cult of the "angel in house" hadn't been fully established, however. That occured more during the Victorian era when women were expected to be useless around the house and completely at there husband's disposal (which is part of the reason the number of boarding schools increases greatly during this period) in return for his earning the living.
If you don't want to read as weighty a tomb as The Prospect you can try Fay Weldon's most excellant "Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen". It give a lot of historical background and explains the diffences between the two times in an amused, witty voice.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.