Women’s Roles in Marriage Throughout History
Various reasons led to women getting married during the Victorian ages. So many women got married because they did not have any other choice and they needed to eat and raise families. Women were not given education in many aspects of life as it was done to men. Women did not have any voice in their choice of education and they were only taught how to attend to the domestic chores only. From a tender age, women were made to believe that they were meant to grow, get a husband and have children (Ibsen, p. 65). They were only taught how to become good wives and mothers who were to remain in the houses and do their household chores as their husbands went out to look for money to raise the family, for example, in the play The A Doll House, Nora whose husband was promoted to a bank manager is treated as child who does not know a man has. She is made to remain in the house as the husband Torvald goes to the office to work (Ibsen, p. 69).
Women are not expected to have careers or to secure jobs in the offices; they are trained to become housewives and nothing more than that. Women spent most of their time trying to conceal the reality of their lives as only housewives. This is well interpreted when Nora as displayed in the play The A Doll House, in secret borrows money from Nils Krogstad who is a lawyer in order to save the life of her husband when he was feeling unwell. She did this to save the image of her husband who is expected to be respected as the sole provider in the house. Women were not supposed to provide for the family and that is why Nora did not reveal the secret to the husband but she did some duties in secret to pay back the money (Sigerman, p. 58).
Due to lack of knowledge and education, women were unable to perform many types of jobs and therefore they had to get married so that they would have someone to give them support in order to cater to their financial, marital and social pressures. The women folk were treated as tools that could either be bought or sold. The women feared being discriminated against by their families and the society when they failed to get married to men who had sufficient wealth (Sigerman, 85) Throughout history the women have in general very few legal rights and good opportunities to secure good careers as men. Being a good wife and a good mother has always been considered the most crucial reason for a woman’s existence.
Throughout history women have been taken as the source of the life of women. Women have been taken as the weaker sex who are inferior to men in all aspects of life. They are expected to perform light duties like raising children, milking and doing all the washing in the house. The woman was not in any way expected to own property and it was the right of every woman to get married and not wait for an inheritance from the father. Over time, the role of women in society is changing; women have now been involved in professions like doctors, teachers, lawyers and other professions. From the 1840s, several laws were executed that began to permit married to at least have some control in the family. The women were permitted to take charge of their families and the children. In the case of separation and divorced women were allowed to take care of their children if they are below the age of seven. The women are also liable to inherit property and also acquire wages from their husbands if they desert them. (Anthony, p. 4).
In the modern days, women have resumed a lot of control over their families as compared to the olden days. A woman can decide to have a family and also engage in a career. If a woman is not able to procreate or has decided not to have children she is not despised as was the case in the olden days. As compared to the olden days, the family affairs are controlled by the couple and they make decisions concerning the family together. Though the religion still advocates for women to submit to their husbands it is also recommended that the husbands should also respect their wives.
In the recent times women get husbands for diverse reasons as compared to the historical periods, and many get married to get love and also for the outward attraction. Women are now expected to first have education and marrying at a tender age is considered outdated and is against the law. Women have been allowed to make choices concerning their families and their marriages. We can conclude that women have become equal partners in their marriages as compared to in the past (Anthony, p. 4).
- Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. New York, NY: Dover Thrift Editions. 1997. Print.
- Sigerman, Harriet, ed. The Columbia Documentary History of American Women. New York, NY: Chichester. 2007. Print.
- Anthony, Susan, “Political Women”, The Daily Times, 1900, on Reel #5 of Anthony Collection, and in Harper 1898, III:1214-5.