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Age Of Innocence Rp

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Women Inequality: It's Not Always the Men's Fault

It was not so long ago that women became politically, economically, and socially equivalent to men. Before this, women were thought only to be mothers and guardians of the family. From the earliest recorded dates to the 20th century, most prominent civilizations were traditionally patriarchal and looked upon the women of their societies as subordinates rather than equals. Who or what is to blame for this blasphemy? Should we curse the tribes of old for starting this trend of inequality towards women? Should we blame the gods for not divinely intervening to assist on the matter? Or should we blame the men for looking down upon women as burdens and subordinates rather than their equals? According to Edith Wharton, none of these are proper candidates to place the blame upon. In Edith Wharton's novel, The Age of Innocence, this same problem is expressed all throughout her book - who's to blame? At first, Wharton gives the reader an idea that the blame should be placed upon the men of society for women's inequality, and originally this seems like the correct answer. If men are the supposed heads of society they could oppress the women as much as they pleased, but further reading disapproves this theory. Then who? Who could this malevolent entity be that is causing this inequality and discrimination? With further reading and an in depth annotation examination of the novel, the entity Wharton blames becomes clear, and this entity just so happens to be the society itself. Wharton thinks that society and social class differences, such as marriages, upbringing, and what is expected from a women, are all reasons for women's inequality.

In late 19th century New York, where the novel The Age of Innocence is set, societal expectations play a major factor on furthering women's inequality. Women of this time did not really have a say in their marriage; "women were treated like a piece of art, being owned and traded according to the will of its owner" (Sand). It was a social expectation for a women to marry a man their father thought suitable. When a father choose a man they thought could be a possible husband for their daughters they had two major factors they kept in mind, wether or not the possible husband would become a prestigious member of society and the amount of wealth the husband had. After appointing a man both renowned for his status in society and his wealth, not much is left for the woman to do, thus our first social inequality. There would be no need for the women to go and obtain her own job if her husband could finically carry both of them by himself. Instead, she could stay home and watch her children and the house, a job society thought best for women. The upbringing of women in society also furthered women's inequality. Women were brought up to believe that they would not do much with their life and everything that they could ever want was already planned out for them (Wharton 1-9). Societal women were brought up to believe that idleness was not something to be ashamed of, but rather something to be rejoicful of. If a women had the ability to able idle that meant they she had a great amount of wealth in her family, something all prestigious families tried to obtain. Wharton distills this idea upon the reader early in the book through a soliloquy with the character Newland Archer. In his conversation to himself, Newland is reflecting on his views over woman. He, not like many other men of his time, believes that woman should he treated equally and have the same freedoms as the men do, but in his conversation he notes that women were brought up not to have desires and did not care much if they had the same rights as men or not (Wharton 28). Another social difference that caused to further women's inequality was that for the most part, women accepted their fate. Women did not know a life other than the one they were currently living, so nothing seem to be wrong with their current way of life. Simple task like talking out in public when not spoken to and acting freely were not things society thought women should be able to do. Any women caught doing such acts were frowned upon greatly. Rather than complaining about their current state of affairs most women did nothing to voice their complaints (Witherow). Women were made to believe that their tasks in society were unimportant and they exists only to benefit the men (Witherow). With all these societal pressures causing women to think that they were unimportant, women sealed their own fate by agreeing with the men that they were incapable. These social class differences in marriage, upbringing, and what is expected from them are all reasons why women of the early 20th century were not considered

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