The Representation of Women in Victorian Texts

Compare and contrast the representation of women in two mid-Victorian texts. (no more than 1000 words).

Women in the Victorian age had no rights. They were prepared in their younger lives for one goal, which was that of marriage. Women were expected to be perfect wives and mothers and all aspects of their lives from financial to social were controlled by their husbands. Representation means to show what the image was of a Victorian woman, although this was rarely done by women themselves. They were usually represented by men and had no voice of their own.   The class and status of a woman was significant in that she was expected to marry a man of the same or better class than herself. By analysing texts written by two authors during the mid-Victorian era it is possible to see the similarities and differences in how women were represented at this time.

The first extract written by John Ruskin is from Sesame and Lilies. It is about the role of men and women in society and the relationship they have to each other. He is stating that people should stop trying to determine who the greater sex is and realise that men need women and vice versa. Ruskin believes that by working together men and women can create a good home. To achieve this they need to stick to their roles both privately and publicly. A man’s role is to provide and protect, whereas a woman’s role is to keep the home in order.

Women, also have a duty to provide loving and nurturing to their husbands. Ruskin also thinks that women can put a stop to war. They should not accept the misery and bloodshed caused by war. It is a man’s disposition to fight; women have a responsibility to persuade their men not to.  

The second text The Subjection of Women written by John Stuart Mill is in favour for the rights of women. The main point of his extract is to put forward the idea of equality between the sexes. Mill is comparing a woman’s role in marriage to be worse than a role of a slave. He claims that...