Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anne Elliot is an intelligent, overlooked middle daughter of the vain Sir Walter Elliot, who cares only for good looks and rank, who over spends and forces the family into retrenching to Bath. Elizabeth, the self-involved older sister resembles her father in temperament. Anne’s younger sister, Mary, is a nervous, clinging woman who has made an unspectacular marriage to Charles Musgrove of Uppercross Hall, the heir to a rural but respected local squire.
Ann, at age 19, considered accepting a proposal of marriage from the handsome, young naval officer Frederick Wentworth. He was clever, confident, and ambitious, but poor and with no particular family connections to recommend him. Her older friend and mentor, Lady Russell, acting in place of Anne's late mother, persuaded her to break the engagement. Lady Russell questioned the wisdom of Anne marrying a penniless young naval officer without family or connections and whose prospects were so uncertain. Wentworth is left bitter at Lady Russell’s interference and Anne’s own want of fortitude.
Now 27, and still unmarried, Anne re-encounters her former love when his sister and brother-in-law, the Crofts, take out a lease on Kellynch. Wentworth is now a captain and wealthy from maritime victories in the Napoleonic wars. However, he has not forgiven Anne for rejecting him. While publicly declaring that he is ready to marry any suitable young woman who catches his fancy, he privately resolves that he is ready to become attached to any appealing young woman with the exception of Anne Elliot.
Through a series of events, Anne and Frederick realize they still admire and love each other, but neither is sure if their feelings are reciprocated. Sir Walter’s heir, William Elliot reunites with the family and everyone is delighted with the reunion, but Ann, who is suspicious of his motives and character. Mrs. Smith, an former school friend of Ann’s, warns Ann about William Elliot’s true character and self center motives. The Musgroves, Crofts, Captain Harville and Wentworth all converge on Bath. Wentworth overhears Ann and Captain Harville discussing the relative faithfulness of men and women in love. Wentworth writes a note to Anne detailing his feelings for her. In a tender scene, Anne and Wentworth reconcile and renew their engagement.
The match is now more palatable to Anne’s family — their waning fortunes and Wentworth’s waxing ones have made a considerable difference. Also, ever overvaluing good looks, Sir Walter is favorably impressed with his future son-in-law’s appearance. Lady Russell admits she has been completely wrong about Captain Wentworth, and she and Anne remain friends.
Prudence (privilege, disguised as wisdom, going by the rules) versus romance, in which prudence comes up against romance and its transformative capacities and possibilities. Ann had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older. This well describes the way in which Austen reverses the usual narrative associated of youth with romance and feeling and age with reason and wisdom.
The relationship between Ann and Frederick represents the avoidance of both cold alliance for social privilege and the moral risks of passion. As the novel brings the lovers together in its final chapters, their reunion is said to be better than the first love because it is “fixed in a knowledge of each other’s character, truth, and attachment” – in other works, in realism and mutuality (like the Crofts) which makes them more justified in acting. (p. 227)
Mrs. Croft reprimands Captain Wentworth because he speaks of women as if they “were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” (p. 66) She is a woman willing to exert herself and bear discomfort rather than aim for the social status of the privileged fine lady. In this, she repudiates the fixed hierarchical idea of women as weak vessels who are unreasonable, delicate, and docile by nature.

Before the 19th century, marriage was a practical consideration viewed as an economic alliance and a guarantor of status in society. It was also potentially a source of emotional sustenance, although that was not the primary reason to enter into marriage. The marital relationship was the keystone of the early modern family economy. Only those who married had the opportunity to establish their own household, and many European states made economic viability a condition before permission to marry was granted. The financial and material contribution of both spouses was essential. (Simonton, p. 24). Social class was also an important consideration when deciding who was appropriate to marry; if both people were not of the same social class, there was not enough motivation to enter into married. Marriage, love, and romance were not the first considerations to get married before the late 18th century. The rise of individualism (a result of the French Revolution) together with a new respect for the individual pursuit of happiness in the late eighteenth centuries brought about the rise of a companionate marriage. (Class discussions). 

Sherry Measom

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Modest is Not Hottest

So I came across this blog post/article a little bit ago, and I think it is really great. It deals with some of the modern-day issues we discuss in class. I definitely recommend reading it!

Modest is Not Hottest - Rebecca A Moore

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Melanie Palsky on Jones, "Coquettes and Grisettes: Women Buying and Selling in Ancient Regime Paris"

Jenifer Jones' article elaborates on the cultural influences that influenced negative views of Marie Antoinette's relationship to her female dressmaker, Rose Bertin. The culture of this time period had experienced a shift of focus from men shopping for 'women', to women shopping for their own personal luxuries. Not only did this cause fear that women would become corrupted and swayed from their virtuous nature and calling of motherhood, but it also blended the class distinction lines; all women were interested in the newest fashions. These changes brought a flurry of arguments on the capabilities of women and what their role is and should be in fashion markets.
Jones argues that this shift in gender roles in the market changed the work place roles of women and men in stitching, sewing, and creating fashionable clothes. Men tried to restrict women’s occupations to sewing and stitching to preserve their virtuous natures and keep them out of prostitution. However, Jones appears to argue that this pay restriction might have actually forced some women to resort to this exact same solution to poverty.

This article should be classed under gender and employment and work. This article explains there was a shift in gender roles of women due to their employment and their work, along with the fashion trends and breakdown of class distinctions. 

Rebekah on Jennifer Jones "Coquettes and Grisettes: Women Buying and Selling in Ancient Regime Paris"

         This article begins by telling the story of Marie Antoinette's relationship with her dressmaker, Rose Bertin. Because "over half of Marie Antoinette's yearly expenditures on fashions were paid to Rose Bertin" people blamed her for the reckless spending that led to French bankruptcy and the downfall of the French  monarchy.
In the late 18th century many people in Paris were troubled by the "culture of shopping" that they saw developing in Paris. Women played a prominent role in this culture, and it was said that the  trade was born on the luxury of women and fed by their coquetry. Nicolas Desessarts described this phenomena as a danger to women. "In the realm of commerce, as in the realm of politics, when women ruled women, disorder, chaos, and folly inevitably reigned." In this culture (the Old Regime) it was still a belief that women could be seduced and had the power to seduce others.
This period, 1750-French Revolution, was a time when London and Paris began sharing goods and luxuries, making it possible for other classes (not just the aristocracy) to become consumers of finer products. "Fashionable dressing was no longer solely the privilege of the elite."
Until the late 19th century women were usually portrayed as the shopkeeper and men as the customer. This was because shopping was a highly visible past-time that was associated with "aristocratic pleasures." Because shops were so close together, it was easy for a person to go from buying luxury goods to drinking coffee or gambling. For much of the 17th and 18th centuries shopping was considered a form of male entertainment. In the middle of the 18th century though, things begin to change as the number of shoppers increased - including the number of female shoppers.
In the 1780s luxury shops became more permanent and elaborate, ready-made clothing was more common and prices were set beforehand. Though men were still shopping as much as women, they were not portrayed in the same way - irrational and easily seduced. New theories as to why women loved frivolities and novelties arose, seeking scientific explanations. By the end of the 18th century women's interest in clothing was viewed as normal and "necessary for marital harmony." However, it was believed that women's "consumer desires" should be channeled into domesticity, rather than coquetry.
As women consumers increased, to did women merchandisers. These women became the principal fashion merchants of their day. Fashion trades were believed to be suited towards women, and there was a difference between what was considered virtuous work for women and virtuous work for men. People worried about the morality of shop girls, who were surrounded by luxury. "They were risking their own moral ruin and that of others." The fashion boutiques of Paris were equated with harems and brothels.
Contemporaries feared that female "marchandes de modes" would corrupt young women who worked in them and the female customers - and ultimately imperil the economy. The relationship between Marie Antoinette and her dressmaker was a heightened version of broader cultural concerns.

        This article was interesting because it talked about the conflicting view of women being part of the consumer industry. Views of women as consumers and merchandisers often conflicted throughout the 18th century as the idea of women needing the distraction of luxury developed, but the fear of women being such a prominent part of the economy led to worries over morality.
        Gender and employment/work are the important themes relating to this article, as it discusses the complicated interaction that they have with each other.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Melanie Palsky on Sisters Across the Atlantic: Aphra Behn and Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz by Donna Kretsch

Kretsch argued that, although Aphra Behn and Sor Juana Inez had lifestyle differences and lived across the Atlantic from each other, several common factors attributed to both of them producing feminist writings. Behn lived a more sexually liberal lifestyle, while Inez was a devoted nun. Their writing voices even displayed their lifestyle choices – Behn, a bad girl voice, and Inez, a good girl voice. Their writings both stated the double standard of men calling upon women; refuse and be ungrateful, or give in and be degraded for being weak. Two main reasons for their similar feminist voices, Kretsch persuades, was connection to the royal court, and education in literary classics.
            This article was interesting, because Kretsch’s evidence covered two women in different situations and lands, however, this same point draws negative aspects as well. While, it is remarkable to read of feminist voices in women’s literature, Behn and Inez were not average women. Their education and connection to royal courts raises them away from the general masses. However, maybe their voices were heard and preserved, because of these exact facts. Regardless, this article is informative in the foundations of feminism for Behn and Inez.
            Gender, feminism, religion, law, education, citizenship, and employment are all themes relating to this article. Kretsch explained that Behn and Inez were both educated women and had similar political and religious views, under the courts of Charles II. Their publications created backlash from the men around them, colleagues and religious leaders, although, only Behn wrote to support herself financially. These themes correspond to both, Behn, and Inez’s lives, creating their feminist writings.