Women in the Victorian Era

Author: Elizabeth Poole Sanford. A British female author whose works revolved around women’s gender roles in the social and domestic spheres in 1842.

 Context: Sanford’s wrote during the Victorian era. In British History, the Victorian era is marked by the reign and death of Queen Victoria from 1832 until 1901. This period was marked by cultural shifts from romanticism to rationalism as well as societal peace and economic prosperity; Sanford herself thought romantic notions of love and passion were in decline.

Language: The language is elementary. Sanford uses neither specialized jargon to weed out the less refined and educated members of society, nor language so simple as to hinder efficient writing.

Audience: Middle-class women. Primarily, married women who must nurture their man through the outlet of domestic comforts. Aristocratic women most likely have servants for domestic maintenance and their own elite social norms and mannerisms, while lower class women are most likely have differing, more industrial priorities.

Intent: Sanford’s intent is to teach the women of the middle class how to properly behave in the domestic and social spheres in order to support their husbands and to help them realize their role and position in accordance to their male counterparts in society.

Message: Romanticism is dying, and women now have a more practical role in society as a functioning domestic member rather than an object of love or passion. In order to obtain less romantic, but more sincere love a women must nurture her man by maintaining his and their domestic environment; to put as much of their domestic labor on her shoulders as her sincerely willing, dependent inferior. That remains her proper role in society as well as in the relationship.

Gender Roles in Goodbye to BerlinThere

In Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, the characters reflect the gender roles of Nazi Germany by exemplifying the ideal male and female roles in German society. To start, Sally is allowed to focus on meeting a man as her “full-time job” while Chris is expected to go out and work, secure sustainable employment and at some point marry one of these women like Sally. These young adults, while having fun amongst themselves, are expected to form the relationships that will allow the state to succeed by the couples producing offspring. This population growth is encouraged by parents supporting their children through the use of monthly stipends; the children however use this money not for its intended purpose but rather for meeting friends and having a good time.

There is a noticeable lack of older males in the text. A lot of the Fraus are single and working to take care of these groups of young adults. They act as a level between the state and the young adults, guiding their development with much more freedom than home life all while providing a motherly environment. They cook, clean and run daily house life for these single men and women, allowing them the ability to go out and search for a spouse, or in Sally’s case a “rich old man, where she won’t have to worry”.