Gender Bias In Dickens Essay, Research Paper
?Charles Dickens preferred workers the way he preferred Victorian women: grateful for favors received, humble, patient, and passive.? (Scheckner) Charles Dickens entered this world on February 7, 1812; he was born in Lindsport, Portsmouth, England. The time period in which he lived and the location in which he dwelled are both important because they had a great effect on his writing. His works were very gender-biased, full of symbolism and irony, and reflected the social structure of his time/place he lived.
When looking at Dickens writings such as Great Expectations (1860) and Our Mutual Friend (1865), you see why many have made the claim that the male is supreme and the woman is simply a worker. Dickens had a certain idea about domestic ideology. In a typical Victorian middle-class household of a man and his wife, the man earned the wages, paid the bills, oversaw the household, attended to political and legal matters, and went to war if necessary. ?The woman was supposed to be soft, meek, quiet, modest, submissive, gentle, patient, and spiritual. The man was to be aggressive, assertive, rough although gentlemanly, tough-skinned, self-controlled, and independent.? Along with being gender-biased Dickens was considered to be rather conservative and typical. Dickens wrote as if he believed a woman?s place was mostly in the home, cooking, cleaning and watching over children. Here are a few examples in Dickens? writings of woman and their small roles. First, Mrs. Joe Gargery, from Great Expectations, is an example of what happens when a woman tries to come into her own and boss a man. ?Even though Mrs. Joe stays home by the hearth, when she gets too assertive she becomes very unattractive and may even deserve a strong smack on the head?which she gets from Orlick.? Second, ?Dickens is unsympathetic with women who socially rebel and who have public causes. Such women become either terrible or ludicrous (Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House, who educates the natives in Africa but neglects her own family).? Third, ?Some women in Dickens? novels just get in the way?of men, that is. We see a few of these women in Hard Times. Possibly because she is too dull to utter an intelligible thought, Mrs. Grandgrind is made miserable by her husband; their daughter Louisa (not unlike Estella in Great Expectations) is deprived of any chance to enjoy love and sex with any man other than her brother. In the same novel Mrs. Sparsit is totally humiliated when she becomes too meddlesome in the affairs of men..? In general Dickens? is impossible to read without seeing the relationships between the sexes, the oppression of women and the emotional and sexual dilemma of women in the mid-nineteenth century in industrial England.